Theatre: Little Shop of Horrors
aka: Little Shopof Horrors
"Feed me! Feed me!... Feed me, Seymour!"
A musical reimagining of the 1960 Roger Corman
film The Little Shop of Horrors
, made by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken
, which debuted in 1982, loosely adapted from Corman's film. The musical was subsequently turned into a 1986 film
directed by Frank Oz
The story revolves around Mushnik's Skid Row Florists and the three people who work there: Mr. Mushnik, the proprietor, and his two assistants, Seymour and Audrey. Seymour loves Audrey, but hasn't told her because he's a poor orphan with no future to offer her. Audrey dreams of meeting a nice man who'll love her for herself, but believes it will never happen. Due to her lack of self esteem, she's willing to date a rich but thoroughly unpleasant guy, Orin Scrivello, a motorcycle-riding dentist who calls himself "the leader of the plaque."
The shop is on its last legs: there's nothing in the till but cobwebs and dust. And then Seymour finds a strange and interesting plant
, which he dubs the Audrey II, and pursuades Mr Mushnik to display it in the shop window. Audrey II proves to be a customer magnet: people come to look at it, and always buy something before they leave. As its fame spreads, the shop receives larger and larger commissions, and Seymour starts receiving offers for national magazine interviews, lecture tours, even his own TV show.
But there's a catch: The plant thrives on human blood
, and will die without it
. At first, Seymour can keep it satisfied with his own blood, but as it grows larger it demands more than a person can give and live. But, you know, there's that repulsive boyfriend of Audrey's — surely nobody would miss him if he were to... disappear...
The original musical was famous for its Kill 'em All
ending, with the moral of "Don't feed the plants" serving as a fitting metaphor for avoiding temptation, and deals that sound too good to be true
. The film version follows the stage version fairly closely except for a Focus Group Ending
in which the Audrey II is defeated and Seymour and Audrey survive to live happily ever after
The film version subsequently resulted in an animated series
called Little Shop
, created by Frank Oz, which aired in 1991. It was set in a High School
, with school-aged Seymour (who's no longer an orphan and has a hypochondriac mother, much like the original 1960 film) and Audrey (who was rewritten to be Mr. Mushnik's daughter who's obsessed with becoming a firefighter) dealing with the usual sort of high school comedy plots, with the dubious assistance of a toned-down plant which was merely carnivorous rather than a "humanitarian
The musical provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The musical jettisons several incidental characters, tightens the plot and gives Seymour's struggle with the carnivorous Audrey II a proper narrative arc.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Audrey is traditionally platinum blonde (the acting script refers to her as such). In the original film, she was brunette.
- Adorkable: Seymour and Audrey.
- Alter Kocker: Mr. Mushnik
- Alto Villainess: Audrey II, though see Ambiguous Gender, below.
- Ambiguous Gender: Audrey II—a plant who acts and sounds male (although casting has often gone both ways in numerous productions), but has a female name and gets referred to by feminine pronouns. (Admittedly, when Seymour states that "the Audrey II is not a healthy girl", the Audrey II hasn't revealed itself as sentient yet, so he's speaking pretty loosely.)
- And I Must Scream: This is ostensibly the ultimate fate of Audrey II's victims — their faces become embedded in the centers of the plant's flowers. It's shown in the finale that the faces can only move and sing (or not, if you take their lines in "Don't Feed The Plants" to be an inner monologue), but appear to be alive and conscious as part of the plant. Since Audrey II and its descendants are nigh-indestructible by the end of the show, their chances of dying a true, merciful death at that point are next to nil.
- And You Were There: After Audrey II starts growing, Seymour is approached by a series of people offering him fame and fortune (three in the musical number "The Meek Shall Inherit", and one more in the final scene); all four are played by a single actor. The same actor also plays the plant's first victim. (As well as various one-off characters with less metaphorical resonance.)
- Apocalypse How: Class 3a.
- Asshole Victim: Orin
- Seymour also counts, it being his Karmic Death.
- Possibly also Mr. Mushnik, depending on how the actor and director play it.
- Audience Participation Song: "Dentist!" ends by becoming this. "Say ahhhhh!" "Ahhhhh!"
- Badass Biker: "What kind of 'professional' rides a motorcycle and wears a black leather jacket?"
- Be Careful What You Wish For: All over the place.
- The Berserker: Seymour in the final scene. "Now!"
- Beware the Nice Ones: Seymour.
- Big Bad: Audrey II.
- Blood Lust: "Don't need no twist of lime..."
- B-Movie: A parody thereof.
- Boredom Montage
- Break the Cutie: Seymour. Audrey was broken long before the musical started.
- Catch Phrase: "Feed me!" and variants thereof.
- A more subtle one is Audrey's "Sure!", which even gets referenced in "Suddenly Seymour" ("I'd meet a man and I'd follow him blindly/He'd snap his fingers/Me, I'd say 'sure'!") In the film of the musical, she even says "Sure!" through a film of happy tears when Seymour proposes.
- "Say ahhhh! Say ahhhh!"
- Cephalothorax: Audrey II. When it swallows you, Where do you go?
- The carnivorous pitcher-plant dissolves its prey in its juices. Audrey II must work on this principle, and its teeth just make the process a little more, ah, digestible.
- Canon Foreigner: Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon.
- The Chessmaster: Audrey II.
- Creepy Physical
- Crapsack World: Skid Row. More like a beer-bottle in a paper bag world.
- Crosscast Role: Mrs. Luce, usually, since the tradition is for all the characters who offer Seymour fame and fortune to be played by a single (male) actor.
- Crowd Song: "Skid Row", "Don't Feed The Plants".
- Cut-and-Paste Suburb: Audrey reveals her greatest dream is a simple life in a tract house in "Somewhere That's Green".
Audrey: I'll cook like / Betty Crocker... and I'll look like / Donna Reed!
- Darker and Edgier: Than the original film, to a degree. While the original was loaded with Black Comedy, the musical manages to throw in plenty of extra angst:
- In the film, Seymour is a bumbling innocent who's so clumsy that he kills his victims by mistake, while in the musical he's seduced into deliberate murder by being promised fame, fortune and the girl he loves, Audrey. Additionally, while the film Seymour lived with his mother, the musical Seymour was abandoned at the Skid Row Home For Boys and taken in by Mushnik, who never liked him and treated him horribly.
- Skid Row is now a terrible place that everyone desperately wishes they could leave.
- Audrey, a happy-go-lucky ditz in the film, becomes the product of a broken home who's been in one bad relationship after another, suffers from low self-esteem, and is regularly abused by her sadistic boyfriend. She also dies in the end.
- The plant goes from being a somewhat sarcastic, ever-hungry presence to a Magnificent Bastard plotting world domination.
- Unlike the film, it's heavily implied that Audrey II will just keep getting more powerful and take over the country/world instead of being content to merely sit and munch every now and then.
- The dentist goes from merely being crazy to being a sadistic monster who proudly boasts about the childhood he spent murdering animals in horrific ways.
- Dark Reprise: Of "Somewhere That's Green."
- Not just that. See the trope page.
- Deal with the Devil: Even referred to as such in the acting script — the precise wording is "pact with the devil." The introduction references the Faust legend as well.
- Death by Adaptation: Mushnik and Audrey don't die in the original movie.
- Death by Cameo: In the original workprint ending, director Frank Oz is seen being eaten by the Audrey IIs invading New York
- Death Song: "Now (It's Just The Gas)" for Orin and "Somewhere That's Green Reprise" for Audrey.
- Depraved Bisexual: No matter what its gender, Audrey II acts rather seductively toward both Seymour and Audrey.
- Depraved Dentist
- Despair Event Horizon: Audrey's death.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life:
I keep asking God what I'm for,
And he tells me, "Gee, I'm not sure,
Sweep that floor, kid!"
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Seymour's relationship with the plant, especially in "Feed Me (Git It)".
- Did You Get a New Haircut?: "Is that new eye makeup?"
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Audrey, in Seymour's arms.
- Die Laughing: "Now (It's Just The Gas)".
Orin: Are you satisfied? I—laughed—my—self—to... (dies)
- Domestic Abuser: Audrey's boyfriend Orin Scrivello is a "semi-" sadist.
- Downer Ending
- Dumb Blonde: Audrey.
- Dramatic Irony: Seymour complains about how he has to keep feeding Audrey II, and Audrey (number I) wonders why he's so upset about the cost of plant food. More tragically, Audrey II persuades Seymour to commit murder by promising him Audrey's heart, and Seymour continues with the killings even after the cost has become obvious because he believes Audrey, along with the fame and the fortune, are Audrey II's gifts to him, and she would leave him if the fame and fortune did. "Somewhere That's Green" makes it clear to the audience that Audrey loved the poor sap long before he ever found the plant.
- Eaten Alive: Musnik and Seymour.
- Economy Cast: If the roles are divided as they were in the original run, only eight cast members are required—four guys and four girls, with Orin's actor playing several minor roles.
- Eleven O'Clock Number: "The Meek Shall Inherit."
- Empathic Environment: "Shang-a-lang, feel the sturm und drang in the air..." Besides that, the script calls for a "Wagnerian" sunset to heighten the over-the-top drama when Seymour feeds Audrey to the plant.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Orin.
- Evil Laugh: Audrey II. Orin on Nitrous oxide.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Audrey II.
- Extreme Doormat: Seymour, and to a lesser extent Audrey.
- Famous Last Words: In the revised ending:
Audrey II: "Oh...SHIT!" *kaboom!*
- Fed to the Beast
- Final Love Duet
- Faux Affably Evil: Orin and Audrey II. (Orin doesn't even pretend to be nice to Audrey, but he acts friendly toward Seymour.)
- Fluffy the Terrible
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the final song, 'Don't Feed the Plants', the song has two different lines:
- "And this theater!"
- "And where you live!"
- Fur and Loathing: Stage directions indicate that the rather creepy Mrs. Luce wears a fox fur coat.
- Gender-Blender Name: Audrey II has a feminine name but is traditionally played by a male actor (traditionally a baritone or bass) and has a masculine personality. (Being a plant, and probably an alien, it's anybody's guess what gender Audrey II really is - if any.)
- The Ghost: Mrs. Shiva, who was an onscreen character in the original film.
- Ghost Song: "Don't Feed The Plants".
- Gone Horribly Right
- Gone Horribly Wrong
- Grass Is Greener
- G-Rated Drug: PG Rated, Not very.
Here he is folks, the leader of the plaque
Chiffon: Watch him suck up that gas, Oh- my- God...!
- Greedy Jew: Mushnik—though, to be fair, a lot of characters want to make money off that plant.
- Greek Chorus: The three Sassy Black Women (see below) Crystal, Ronnette, and Chiffon.
- Grief Song: In the German version, Seymour responds to Audrey's death with a Dark Reprise of "Suddenly Seymour".
- Groin Attack: "So better move 'em out / Nature calls / You got my pun? / I'm gonna bust your balls!"
- He Knows Too Much: Seymour's reason for killing Mushnik.
- Heel Realization: "You're a monster, and so am I!"
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Orin wears a black leather jacket. The acting script calls for an insignia of a bleeding tooth across the back.
- He Who Fights Monsters
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood:
"He took me out of the Skid Row Home for Boys when I was just a little tyke. Gave me a warm place to sleep, under the counter. Nice things to eat like meatloaf and water. Floors to sweep and toilets to clean and every other Sunday off!"
- Historical-Domain Character: Mrs. Luce (in real life, Clare Booth Luce) really was the wife of the editor of Life Magazine. She was also a playwright, journalist, socialite, ambassador and congresswoman.
- Hope Spot: There are quite a few moments when it looks as if Seymour's going to kill the plant, but he never does.
- Horror Hunger
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Seymour, eaten by his own giant plant, and Orin, who asphyxiates when the laughing gas mask gets stuck. In the stage show, Mushnik plays with this- he worries about money to the point of adopting Seymour just to keep the plant, and Seymour tells him he put the day's earnings in the plant during Suppertime, but considering A) how the shop had been doing before Audrey II, and B) the fact that it's apparently over a thousand dollars, his concern is more or less justified. Audrey is the only victim who doesn't really have a Karmic Death.
- Audrey's death was karmic - for Seymour instead of for her.
- Mushnik has an oddly meta example of this. In the original b-movie, he tricked a would-be robber into getting eaten by the plant by telling him the shop's money was inside it. The musical lifted the situation with practically the same dialogue, but used it to kill off Mushnik.
- Humans Are Bastards: After we're treated to a seemingly nice and lovable guy getting seduced into repeat murder, the ending song tells us that the plants are doing the same thing all across America, offering "unsuspecting jerks" their wildest dreams in exchange for blood. The message of "Don't Feed The Plants" is obvious—with the right motivation, anyone could kill people to feed a plant. Including you.
- "I Am" Song: "I am your dentist!"
- Idiot Ball: After killing Orin, Seymour indulges in what has to rank among the worst murder coverups in the history of fiction. He leaves his baseball cap and his bag at the scene of the crime (the bag, by the way, has the name of the shop on it), stuffs Orin's uniform in the trash can outside the shop, and doesn't even bother to clean up the blood he spilled on the shop floor. When questioned about it, he says, "I spilled some Hawaiian Punch and it stained."
- If We Get Through This: Used, and the focus of a Cut Song.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Audrey II's behavior toward Audrey in "Suppertime II".
- I Lied: No shit, Sherlock!
- Ill Girl: Audrey doesn't have the usual Soap Opera Disease, but she is not a healthy girl.
- Insecure Love Interest: This is why Audrey doesn't consider leaving the abusive "semi-sadist" Orin for her Adorkable Nice Guy coworker Seymour; she likes Seymour, but she considers herself too dirty and worthless to be with him.
- For his part, Seymour is convinced that he's not good enough for Audrey. When he finally realizes that she loves him back, he assumes that it's because he now has money and believes that he'll lose her if he loses his income from the plant. Tragedy ensues.
- Ironic Echo:
Seymour: You're a monster, and so am I!
Audrey II: Feed me!
- The Ingenue: Audrey (the human)
- "I Want" Song: "Somewhere That's Green"
- As well as its Dark Reprise and the villainous version in "Feed Me".
- "Skid Row", "Grow For Me", and "Mushnik and Son" also qualify—and, to a lesser degree, "Now (It's Just The Gas)" and "The Meek Shall Inherit".
- I Wished You Were Dead: Audrey secretly wished Orin would disappear, and when he actually does, she blames herself, worrying that it's her fault if he "met with foul play". (Although she doesn't know it, she is the reason Seymour killed him.)
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr. Mushinik, who cares somewhat for Seymour (though more for money) and for Audrey, who he constantly advises to drop her abusive boyfriend.
- Jewish Complaining
- Jews Love to Argue
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Orin.
- The Klutz: Seymour's signature trait before the Audrey II plot takes off, at which point it disappears. (Unlike his counterpart in the original film, he's not a Lethal Klutz.)
- Laughably Evil: Orin, Audrey II, and (depending on how he's played) Mushnik.
- Laughing Mad: Dr. Orin Scrivello during Seymour's dental exam. Admittedly, it was due to a fatal overdose of laughing gas.
- Leit Motif: Quite a few. Just to name one example, the tune to Mushnik And Son appears three times, not counting in the song itself.
- Lonely at the Top
- Love Makes You Evil: All of Seymour's evil deeds are done for Audrey's sake.
- Love Redeems: "Suddenly Seymour" is about Audrey being redeemed by Seymour, which is ironic when you consider that she's The Ingenue and he's a murderer.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Quite a lot: cheerful, rousing rock/motown numbers spliced with references to horror and bloodshed are the order of the day here.
- Man-Eating Plant
- Manipulative Bastard: Audrey II.
- Meaningful Name: The dentist: Orin ("oral") Scrivello (a type of elephant tusk).
- Miracle-Gro Monster: Audrey II gradually gets bigger as it gets more blood.
- Money Song: Since money is a huge part of the plot, it's inevitable that some songs would revolve, at least partially, around it. Probably the best example is Mushnik's intro to "Ya Never Know".
- Mood Whiplash
- Murder By Inaction: Seymour tries to shoot Orin the Depraved Dentist, but can't bring himself to. Moments later, Orin gets himself high inside a mask full of gas, but finds he can't get it off and begs Seymour to help him get it off (while he laugh maniacally.) Seymour just stands by and watches Orin suffocate.
- Murder the Hypotenuse
- The Musical
- My God, What Have I Done?
- No Communities Were Harmed:
Manhattan in the 60s Downtown south of 14th Skid Row.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Lampshaded in the opening monologue. The narrator talks about how threats to Earth often happen in the most ordinary and unlikely of places.
- Oblivious to Love: For a good part of the show, Seymour and Audrey are oblivious to each other's love. Each admires the other excessively and has about zero self-esteem.
- Deconstructed, as Seymour refuses to stop feeding the plant because he fears Audrey would stop caring about him if he was broke again which leads to their deaths.
- Our Founder: A picture of Mr. Mushnik with the caption "Our Founder" appears in the shop in the scene following "The Meek Shall Inherit."
- Paparazzi: Mrs. Luce wants a photo of Seymour with the plant for the cover of Life Magazine.
- Pet the Dog: Mushnik would come off as a complete Jerk Ass if he didn't show concern for Audrey and urge her to break up with Orin.
- Phrase Catcher: The fact that Audrey II is a "strange and interesting plant" is repeated by no fewer than five characters in the scene where Seymour puts it in Mushnik's display window. Strange and interesting indeed.
- Plant Aliens
- Powered by a Forsaken Child
- Pragmatic Adaptation
- Precision F-Strike: Even though adult Audrey II is one Cluster F-Bomb after another, one line doubles as a Wham Line.
Seymour: Every household in America? Thousands of you eating... that's what you had in mind all along, isn't it?
Audrey II: (smug) Noooooooooooooo shit, Sherlock.
- Redemption Equals Death: For Seymour, who doesn't actually end up killing Audrey II. At least he tries.
- Released to Elsewhere: After Mushnik is killed, Seymour claims he is visiting his sister in Czechoslovakia.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Seymour attempts one of these on Audrey II, but ends up getting eaten.
- Sadist: Orin Scrivello is even called the Marquis de Sade in "Dentist!" It's arguable whether Audrey II also counts, given it's an alien.
- Sassy Black Woman: Three of them, in the form of Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon, who also function as the show's Greek Chorus (see above).
- Scary Black Man: Audrey II is often voiced by an African - American actor.
- Screen-to-Stage Adaptation
- Seemingly Wholesome '50s Girl: Audrey counts as a subversion. She thinks she's one, but she's really The Ingenue.
- Right before "Suddenly Seymour" she implies, but doesn't outright state, that she moonlit as a stripper when the flower shop was doing poorly, and met Scrivello while working that job. Still, that doesn't make her a Seemingly Wholesome '50s Girl by itself.
- Self-Harm: What Seymour does in order to feed Audrey II, initially.
- Shipper on Deck: Crystal, Ronette, Chiffon, and Audrey II for Seymour/Audrey.
- Shout-Out: The cut song "Bad" (rewritten for the film as "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space") had Audrey II boasting about how much badder he is than Godzilla, King Kong and the Bride of Frankenstein.
- The three urchins are named for three different girl groups of the sixties (The Crystals, The Ronettes and The Chiffons). The songs reference and parody the sixties music scene, both lyrically and stylistically. This blog has a pretty comprehensive overview.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Audrey seems to suffer from All Girls Want Bad Boys, but in the end she prefers the sweet Seymour.
- Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Comedy-dominant, though the line definitely gets blurred.
- Take Over the World: Audrey II's plan all along.
- The Song Before The Storm: The cut song "We'll Have Tomorrow" would have taken place in the shop shortly before "Sominex/Suppertime II".
- Twice Shy: Seymour and Audrey.
- Somewhere Song
- Terms of Endangerment: Several examples:
- Orin calls Seymour "stud".
- In "The Meek Shall Inherit", Bernstein, Mrs. Luce and Skip Snip address Seymour with increasingly uncomfortable pet names ("dollface", "my sweet, sweet thing", and "pussycat", to name a few).
- Audrey II flirts with the human Audrey moments before attempting to eat her.
- Tempting Fate: Several cases, as in the cut song "We'll Have Tomorrow". The best example has to be when Seymour first agrees to feed blood to the tiny plant: "Well, okay...as long as you don't make a habit of it or anything!"
- The Bad Guy Wins
- Theme Naming: Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon take their names from the Crystals, the Ronettes and the Chiffons; all 1960s New York African-American girl groups.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Justified when Seymour tries it, because all his weapons can't kill the plant anyway.
Audrey: A gun?
Seymour: And bullets! And rat poison! And a machete!
- They Call Me Mr Tibbs: Orin insists that Audrey call him "Doctor" and use the term "D.D.S." when referring to him. It's implied that he's beaten her for neglecting to do so ("You gotta train 'em, eh, stud?").
- This Is a Drill: Orin's drill isn't rusty, it's an antique.
- Too Dumb to Live: When Mushnik discovers Seymour killed Orin, Seymour tells Mushnik that he put the day's profits inside the plant for safekeeping and tells him to climb inside of it and get it. He does so and gets eaten. And later, when Seymour discovers Audrey II's true intentions for world domination, he climbs inside it's mouth with a matches to try and kill it from the inside..and gets eaten.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Audrey.
- To Serve Man
- Total Eclipse of the Plot: Audrey II appears at a plant store in a solar eclipse.
- Tragedy: The musical is a Greek tragedy, complete with a trio of singers who represent the Greek Chorus, and Seymour first sacrifices his enemy, then his father figure, then his love, then himself.
- Trial Balloon Question
- Unlucky Everydude: Seymour could be seen as a deconstruction. He fits the description perfectly until Audrey dies.
- Villain Song: "Dentist", "Feed Me", "Suppertime" and "Mean Green Mother."
- Depending on how it's played, "Mushnik and Son".
- Villain Love Song: "Feed Me (Git It)" and "Suppertime II"
- Villain Recruitment Song: "Mushnik and Son", which is followed immediately by "Feed Me (Git It)".
- Wanderlust Song
- We Named the Monkey Jack: Seymour names the plant after Audrey. It's meant to be in a nice way, as he first believes the plant is a previously undiscovered (terrestrial) breed.
- Where Do You Think You Are?:
Better ourselves? You hear what he said, girls? Bet-ter
ourselves? Mister, when you're from Skid Row
, ain't no such thing.
- Wife-Basher Basher: Seymour. He plans to ignore the plant and not feed it anything—until Orin abuses Audrey right in front of him. Audrey II is fully aware that this is Seymour's Berserk Button.
Seymour: He's so nasty, treatin' her rough!
Audrey II: Smackin' her 'round, always talkin' so tough!
Seymour: You need blood, and he's got more than enough!
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds/Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Audrey. Her dying words make humanity's salvation impossible.
- World of Ham
- Wrong Side of the Tracks: Skid Row.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: The plant knows some Yiddish, like "Come on Seymour, don't be a putz". (He even says "Feh!") He probably learned the Yiddish from the likely-Jewish Mr. Mushnik, who uses "mensch" and "mishegas". The lyricist/composer team, Ashman and Menken, also did many Disney movies, and the same influence is seen there (Phil in Hercules, etc.).
- You Are Too Late: "Don't Feed The Plants" informs us humanity is screwed. All of it.
- You Bastard: "Don't Feed The Plants" has Audrey II's kind take over by every human on Earth buying into it's promises in exchange for blood-including you.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Audrey II has no qualms about eating Seymour after his plans get enough momentum to go on without him.