As previously tipped (See The Goss, 24 Aug 2006), the Menier Chocolate Factory will revive Little Shop of Horrors as an alternative Christmas show. The first major London revival of the gleefully gruesome 1982 musical comedy will open at the Southwark venue on 29 November 2006 (previews from 17 November) and continue until 25 February 2007.

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s sci-fi spoof musical is loosely based on Roger Corman’s low-budget 1960 film, which was filmed in under a week and featured a young Jack Nicholson in a bit part. Nerdy orphan Seymour works in Mr Musnik’s run-down florist shop, along with girl of his dreams Audrey, who is dating a demented dentist. After a solar eclipse, Seymour discovers a peculiar plant with a bloodthirsty appetite, which he names Audrey II. As his infatuation with the real Audrey grows, so does the plant.

The 1986 film version starred Rick Moranis as Seymour, Steve Martin as the dentist and Ellen Greene as Audrey, a role Greene originated on stage. At the Menier, Paul Keating (Tommy, Assassins, Closer to Heaven) will play Seymour with Sheridan Smith (TV’s The Royle Family, Two Pints of Lager, Grownups, this year’s Open Air Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Audrey, Barry James (who played Seymour in the original 1983 West End production at the Comedy Theatre) as Mr Mushnik, and Jasper Britton (The Father, Paradise Lost, Becket, Japes, RSC’s Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed) as Orin, the dentist.

The production will be directed by Matthew White, whose UK premiere of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years is currently at the Menier, and designed by David Farley, who jointly won this year’s Critics’ Circle Best Design for the Menier’s Sunday in the Park with George, which transferred to the West End. While most productions have retained the same design for Audrey II, as per the film version (pictured), Farley is created a “brand new plant”, which will be voiced by Mike McShane.

Prior to Little Shop of Horrors, Jeremy Lion, aka comedian Justin Edwards, will bring his new show For Your Entertainment to the Menier for five weeks from 12 October to 11 November 2006 (previews from 10 October). Lion has sold out three consecutive years at the Edinburgh Fringe and was nominated for the Perrier award for his show What’s the Time Mr Lion? which toured the UK last year, in addition to a run at Soho Theatre.

For Your Entertainment follows extraordinary children’s entertainer Jeremy Lion as he embarks on a new chapter in his chequered career. With his regular pianist injured, and forced to move towns for "reasons", Jeremy decides to hold a showcase of his talents for potential employers. How will he and his new sidekick Hilary fare? Puppet shows, magic, clowning, high quality sandwiches and of course Jeremy's special punch – almost nothing is within their grasp...

Currently at the Menier, The Last Five Years, in which Damian Humbley and Lara Pulver detail the disintegration of a marriage, completes its season on 30 September 2006.

- by Terri Paddock