|Rick Moranis in one of his best roles.|
Whereas Pennies offered upbeat production numbers against a depressing background, Little Shop takes a lighter, sassier approach toward its grisly subject matter. For example, Steve Martin's sadistic dentist is so repulsive that one wonders how the plant could stomach him (literally).
The plot, borrowed from Roger Corman's 1960 nonmusical, has nerdish floral assistant Seymour saving a flower shop from bankruptcy by discovering a new plant species. Seymour's flower, dubbed the Audrey II after the fellow employee he secretly loves, grows and grows. And so does business.
Yet, only Seymour knows what makes his plant thrive--blood, lots of it. And after draining himself to a dangerously low level, Seymour becomes convinced (by the plant) to look elsewhere for plant food.
|Moranis and the marvelous Ellen Greene.|
|The Audrey II.|
Amazingly, there's not a throwaway song in the entire Howard Ashman and Alan Menken score. From the opening dance tune "Skid Row" (where depression is status quo) to Green's emotional rendering of the ballad "Suddenly Seymour," the songs wittily accent the far-out story.
|Steve Martin as a painful dentist.|
Following Little Shop, Ashman and Menken almost singlehandedly revived animated musicals with their delightful Disney classic The Little Mermaid. They followed it with the even better Beauty and the Beast in 1991, which became the first animated movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Tragically, Ashman died that same year at age 40 from complications due to AIDS.
His legacy includes some of the most buoyant, entertaining musicals ever to grace the silver screen. It's impossible to watch Little Shop of Horrors without feeling a little giddy with delight as the end credits roll. Just be wary of singing, people-eating plants!