10 Fun Facts and Weird Things to Know about “Little Shop of Horrors”

The show runs at Indiana Repertory Theatre through May 19.
Little Shop of Horrors at Indiana Reperatory Theatre

three cast members from the Little Shop of Horrors performanceIn celebration of Indiana Repertory Theatre’s first musical in a decade, we delved into all things “Little Shop of Horrors,” uncovering some peculiar and delightful facts, including some from the 1960s and 1986 films. 

Presented by Glick Philanthropies, “Little Shop of Horrors,” now on stage at IRT, boasts a cast and design team composed mainly of individuals making their debut at the theatre. The show is directed by IRT’s Margot Lacy Eccles Artistic Director Benjamin Hanna, with Musical Director Andrew Bourgoin, known for his work on Broadway productions like “Mean Girls” and “Aladdin.”

Catch “Little Shop of Horrors” on the OneAmerica Mainstage at Indiana Repertory Theatre from April 17 to May 19. For further details and tickets, visit irtlive.com. (Maven members: Remember to utilize your ticket discount offering $15 off any season ticket. Find the code in Circle.)

The storyline unfolds against the backdrop of a total solar eclipse. 

In “Little Shop of Horrors,” the protagonist, Seymour, stumbles upon a peculiar plant named Audrey II during a rare total eclipse. This plant has an unsettling diet, exclusively consuming human flesh and blood. Notably, the last total eclipse in New York City occurred in 1925, with the next projected for 2079, adding to the intrigue of the show’s setting.

set from the Little Shop of Horrors performance at the IRTThe set took months to complete. 

Interiors were shot over two days and a night, while exteriors were filmed over the following two weekends. The construction duration for an IRT performance takes much longer. In conjunction with the Scenic Designer and other IRT Departments, The Scene Shop begins working on planning and discussions months in advance, sometimes even a year. Pieces are completed as design and time allows during the season, with the bulk of the focus between the Scene and Paint Shops in the few months and weeks leading up to the opening. There are often other productions on the stage where the show will take place, so some things are built and painted elsewhere in the Theatre and assembled/finalized on stage.

The story’s genesis can be traced back to an Indiana University graduate. 

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, the duo behind the 1986 film, also collaborated on Disney classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Ashman pursued his undergraduate studies at Boston University and Goddard College before obtaining a Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University in Bloomington.

The show mentions an iconic figure from Indiana’s past. 

Among the celebrities from the fifties and sixties referenced in the play is James Dean (1931–1955), a native of Indiana. Despite appearing in only three films, he is regarded as one of the great stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Real-life individuals inspired characters in Act 2, including a woman’s magazine editor. 

Clare Booth Luce (1903–1987) was a notable figure, serving as a writer, managing editor of Vanity Fair, U.S. Congresswoman, and Ambassador to Italy. Best known for her 1936 play “The Women,” her influence extended across fiction, journalism, and war reportage. She was married to Henry Luce, renowned publisher and editor-in-chief of Time, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated, establishing them as a prominent power couple in American history.

Little Shop of Horrors performanceThe 1986 film’s wardrobe and props were sourced from New York thrift shops.

For the IRT production, about half of the costumes were purchased and then tailored/specialized by the IRT Costume Shop. From scratch, the IRT Costume Shop made the black vinyl catsuits and the short red dresses for the singing chorus Trio—Ronnette, Crystal, and Chiffon. The Costume Designer for the production is Izumi Inaba with wigs (17 in total) designed by Ray Sanchez.

A growing Audrey II means multiple puppets and multiple actors. 

For the 1986 film, veterans of the Jim Henson company designed and operated Audrey II, the iconic plant puppet. There are multiple puppets for Audrey II as it grows throughout the IRT show. The theatre rented the 4 puppets and some of the vines and flowers from Matthew McAvene Creations. The IRT Prop Shop enhanced the plant vines by building textured fabric vines stuffed with plastic bags for organic movement and shape. The plant puppets are blacklight-sensitive.

To make Audrey II come to life, there are two actors – Rob Johansen (manipulation) and Allen Sledge (voice). While hidden, Rob puppeteers the versions onstage, including the largest iteration, which swallows victims whole!

The film was shot on the largest sound stage at Pinewood Studios in England, dubbed the “007 stage” for its grandeur. The Indiana Repertory Theatre was originally a movie house. 

The Indiana Repertory Theatre was originally the Indiana Theatre, a movie house built in the 1920s. The IRT renovated the theatre in the late 1970s, and the first season in the building was 1980-1981.  The renovation turned a large 3,000-seat movie theatre into the current layout with three performing spaces.  The musical takes place on the OneAmerica Mainstage, which seats close to 600 patrons.

Inspired to create your own Little Shop-themed bouquet or garden?

Here’s a list of flowers found at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists: African violets, carnations, forget-me-nots, gladiolas, nasturtiums, wisteria, wolfsbane, zinnias, peonies, petunias, roses, hepaticas, japonica, magnolias, forsythia, fleur-de-lis, geraniums, chrysanthemums, daisies, delphiniums, anemones, baby-blue-eyes, and camelias.

Mushnik’s would have made BANK on the Rose Bowl.

In the song “Call Back in the Morning,” Audrey mentions that the Rose Bowl wishes to purchase flowers for every float from Mushnik’s. Today, the value of the Rose Bowl order would amount to $14,569.39.98.

Leslie Bailey is the co-founder and CEO of Indy Maven. She absolutely loved IRT’s “Little Shop of Horrors” performance and has had the theme song in her head ever since.

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