Alphabetical Movie – Little Shop of Horrors
When I was seventeen, my family took a trip to Europe for summer vacation. We spent a week in France, a week in Germany, a few days in Amsterdam and a week in England. Mostly London.
At the time, I was about to go to college as a theatre major and all I wanted to do in London was go see plays. My parents wanted to go to all sorts of historical buildings and stuff and I resented it at the time. One play a day hardly seemed fair. Who gave a crap about the Tower of London?
The Tower of London, by the way, was pretty cool. I regret it took me several years to realize that.
My brother, on the other hand, was nursing a growing interest in dance and one evening, he wanted to go see the ballet.
Boy oh boy did I have no interest in the ballet. I was sure it would be lovely but I could be bored by ballet anywhere. I was in London and I wanted to see a play.
I was seventeen so I was probably kind of a prick about it but eventually we reached a compromise wherein my mother and my brother would go to the ballet and my dad and I would see a play. I don’t know if this is true but I think dad was probably just as anxious to avoid the ballet as I had been. Maybe a little less.
So we went to Leicester Square to purchase some half price tickets to a show. Any show. We really didn’t care.
We picked up tickets to a show called “Little Shop of Horrors.” This was before the movie came out so we’d never heard of the show. We just figured that the ticket price was good and I think whatever we wanted to see was already sold out. That and the person at the ticket booth told us we’d enjoy it.
I’m not even positive we knew it was a musical.
Well, the show was amazing. If you love the movie and you’ve never seen the stage show, there is nothing that compares to that big freaking plant puppet that eventually takes up half the stage.
At the end of the show, the plants take over the world and plant tentacles drop from the ceiling onto the audience. One of them hit me on the head and I damn near peed myself. My dad laughed because dads are incapable of being compassionate when their teenaged sons are scared out of their wits by a foam rubber tentacle.
I know I won’t be.
It was one of the single greatest theatre going experiences of my life. It ranks above seeing Colm Wilkinson perform Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables.” Barely. It ranks above the performance of “The Mikado” I saw in Stratford, Canada. It ranks above any number of exceptional shows I’ve seen at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
It was the first time I think I really understood what theatre could do. I’m pretty sure my mom would say it was “The Mikado” that did that but I don’t think I was quite old enough to view it with that kind of depth.
There I was, about to go to school to become a theatre professional and I finally understood why I’d want to do that.
I bought the cast recording tape on the way out. Yes – it was the mid 80’s – what of it?
I recall later that evening that I described the entire show to my mom and brother. They listened politely as I attempted to explain why their choice was absolutely wrong and our choice was absolutely right. Did I mention I was seventeen?
My response to the show was, I think, at least a little bit because I was completely blindsided. I had no idea what I was going to see and as a result, my expectations were set about as low as they could be.
I wanted to see a play because I was in London. As long as the curtain went up at the beginning of the show and went down again at the end, my expectations would have been met.
So was the show as great as all that?
Looking back on it now….yes. Yes it was.
So how do you think the movie does as compared to the stage show?
The movie is very good. The ending is completely changed and while I understand why it was done, I still miss the nihilistic yet hilarious ending that the show has.
One thing I miss from the play is that every character aside from Seymour, Muchnik, Audrey and the three members of the “Chorus” are played by the same actor. One guy gets all the meatiest roles in the show.
Steve Martin kills as the dentist, though. Completely perfect casting.