Oklahoma City University’s Opera and Music Theater Company continues its 60th-anniversary season with three Halloween-weekend performances of the comedy cult classic “Little Shop of Horrors.”
The story follows the rise to fame of Seymour Krelborn, a lowly flowershop employee on New York’s skid row, after he discovers a mysterious talking plant with a thirst for blood.
Based on a 1960 Roger Corman film, the 1982 off-Broadway hit marked the first musical success for the songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken who went on to win multiple Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes for their work on Disney animated films. The stage version went to Broadway and has since been performed all over the world, as well as spawned the 1986 Oscar-nominated film adaptation.
“‘Little Shop’ is a near-perfect show,” said director David Herendeen. “I don’t often refer to a show as such. As a matter of fact, my colleagues laugh at me because my directing process usually involves me expressing a certain disdain for the flaws in whatever show I’m working on. ‘Little Shop’ has no flaws. Its structure, dramatic flow and pacing are spot-on. The lyrics are clever, as is the book, which is often a weakness in a musical.”
Herendeen was introduced to “Little Shop” through Corman’s low-budget film, and later saw the stage musical through school and community-theater productions.
“Audiences are so smart and so open to fantasy, and this show makes them invest more of their imagination, making them participate more actively,” he said.
When asked about his approach to directing “Little Shop,” Herendeen emphasized the collaborative nature of OCU’s Spotlight productions.
“I think I get too much credit for these shows. What you will see is a result of my student actors and great assistant directors,” he said. “And, of course, the actors, little geniuses, who worked their individuality into my show structures.”
The production includes Brian Osborne as music director, a cast of 25 and an equivalent rating of PG-13 for its multiple murders, which Herendeen said qualifies it as a “musi-kill.”
“It’s got edge, but its edge is hidden within a bouncy, doo-wop world,” he said. “The bright songs cover the dark subjects.”