Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Little Shop of Horrors

I've touched on Little Shop twice before, but wanted to give it a full post.

Reviews of the recent American Psycho musical have said there's no way to make the murderous protagonist sympathetic. This got me thinking about Seymour Krelborn. I mock (and lust after) Patrick Bateman. I pity Sweeney Todd. I genuinely like Seymour. From the moment I hear the song "Skid Row" I'm on his side. How does he do it?

Well, like Sweeney, he has a loathsome antagonist and a seductive accomplice. Like Sweeney he also does some truly awful things in Act Two. Unlike Sweeney he holds on to the possibility of redemption. *** spoiler? *** The movie gave him a happy ending, but it left a sour aftertaste. We may want him to get away with it but understand when he doesn't. ***

So why did this popular show flop when it opened on Broadway in 2003? Some said the stage was too big, the performances too arch, the material too dated. An Encores concert in 2015 showed that the show still works if the larger-than-life characters are played with honesty.

*** EDIT: Seeing the show again I realize that Seymour and Audrey's fatal flaw is their crippling self-loathing. It's not greed as they don't really take advantage of their new found income. They're given several opportunities to escape their fate but keep making poor choices from a place of low self-worth.

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