Jonathan Groff on How the 'Little Shop of Horrors' Revival Will Honor Howard Ashman (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Coming to the New York City theater stage in September is a highly anticipated revival of Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Michael Mayer and starring Jonathan Groff. The hit comedy-horror musical will not be returning to Broadway; instead, it’ll debut Off-Broadway like the original production that first ran in 1982.
The musical, with music by Alan Menken and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, is based on the 1960 film and tells the story of a florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human flesh. The original production ran for five years and was adapted into a 1986 film starring Rick Moranis.
“It’s a musical that I’ve always been obsessed with,” says Groff, who is a two-time Tony Award nominee and star of Netflix’s Mindhunter, which returned on Aug. 16. While promoting the new season, the actor briefly opened up about the upcoming production, which begins previews on Sept. 17 and is set to open Oct. 17.
While the musical was revived on Broadway in 2003, Ashman, who died in 1991, never intended it go that route “out of fear that it would lose its heart and soul.” The new production will honor that notion by performing at the Westside Theater, which Groff describes as a “little 270-seat theater on 43rd Street.”
“He didn’t allow the show to move to Broadway because he said it was meant to be done in an intimate way,” Groff says of Ashman. “So to get to return the show to its small, tiny theater roots is going to be really exciting.”
In addition to Groff starring as the hapless shop worker, Seymour, Tammy Blanchard will play his co-worker, Audrey. Christian Borle has been cast as Audrey’s boyfriend and dentist, Orin.
The production will also reunite Groff and Mayer, who previously worked together on the rock coming-of-age musical, Spring Awakening, which earned Groff his first Tony nomination. (His second was for playing King George in Hamilton.) “I haven’t worked with him since then,” the actor says. “I’m really excited to work with him again.”
When asked if his Mindhunter co-stars, Holt McCallany and Anna Torv, were planning to attend the show, McCallany chimed in to say he “absolutely will be there” while joking that Groff better help him get tickets.