IRT transforms into Skid Row for ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

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Dominique Allen Lawson and Rob Johansen (Audrey II, Manipulation) in the IRT's 2024 production of
Dominique Allen Lawson and Rob Johansen (Audrey II, Manipulation) in the IRT's 2024 production of "Little Shop of Horrors." (Photo/Zach Rosing)

“Whatever you do, don’t feed the plants!”

The Indiana Repertory Theatre presents “Little Shop of Horrors” April 17-May 19. With music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the cult classic Skid Row horror romance story is the first musical to grace the stage of the IRT in more than a decade, Benjamin Hanna, Director & Margot Lacy Eccles Artistic Director, said in an email to the Recorder.

“A send-up of monster movies — which are often metaphors for societal woes — ‘Little Shop’ has always been one of my favorite musicals,” Hanna said. “Stuck on Skid Row by terrible circumstances, two oddball lovers strive for a dream just beyond their reach.”

Having originally premiered on Broadway in 1982, “Little Shop of Horrors” was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical in 2004. Since its introduction, the show has become a fan-favorite, captivating audiences across the country whether through national tours, regional theater or high school productions, the movie or various cast recordings, music director Andrew Bourgoin told the Recorder.

Bourgoin said the version the IRT is presenting is 42 years old and will feature the original off-Broadway five-piece rhythm section. Breon Arzell, choreographer, told the Recorder “Little Shop of Horrors” centers around those who dare to dream for more and these themes are reflected in the music and choreography — which is inspired by “Doo-wop” and R&B music made popular in the 1960s by Black girl groups such as The Supremes, The Chiffons and The Ronettes.

The “horticultural horror musical” is full of high camp, memorable music, quirky costumes and a man-eating plant, Hanna said. Audiences can expect an evening full of belly laughs, sick vocals, an incredible set and lighting designs, fantastic costumes and a cast full of exceptional talent, Dominique Lawson said in an email to the Recorder.

The cast of the IRT's 2024 production of "Little Shop of Horrors." (Photo/Zach Rosing)
The cast of the IRT’s 2024 production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” (Photo/Zach Rosing)

However, the story is also about capitalism, greed and raises moral dilemmas about how far one is willing to go for success.

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Lawson plays Seymour Krelborn, a down on his luck flower shop worker with a fascination for “strange and unusual plants.” Lawson said Seymour is an “absolute dream role” and he resonates with his character’s ambitious nature that is hidden behind his reserved exterior.

“Seymour is a complicated little guy. He’s been treated like a doormat all his life and that’s reflected in his small, submissive demeanor, but inside he’s full of the same ambitions for a fuller life that we all have,” Lawson said in an email. “I see Seymour as the version of myself I would be if I was full of my same aspirations and drive but received none of the opportunity, support, or love.”

Seymour’s love interest, Audrey, is played by Lucy Godinez, who said that despite her less than desirable circumstances, Audrey finds comfort in glamour, color and joy. Designed as an archetype of the early 20th century damsel in distress, Godinez said Audrey’s kindness is her defining factor and “amidst all of the grit and grime of Skid Row, Audrey’s box-dyed hair and heart of gold shine through.”

“I think audiences can expect a lot of heart from our show,” Godinez said in an email. “The relationships and the connection between each of the characters is what really makes all of the funny and campy bits of Little Shop truly resonate, and I think you’ll find yourself really rooting for the success of these characters.”

“Little Shop of Horrors” is onstage at the IRT April 17-May 19, 2024. The show is recommended for sixth grade and above for mild profanity, scenes of domestic violence, self-harm, drug use and murder. The show is approximately two hours and 15 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. Tickets start at $25. For more information about showtimes, ticketing and special programing, visit irtlive.com.

Contact Arts & Culture Reporter Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.