‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Eats


What if, during the total solar eclipse a few weeks ago, you bought a plant in a Chinese flower shop?

That’s a question that the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors” can answer. Based on the 1982 musical of the same name, the production follows Seymour (Conall P. McGinn ’25), who works at Mushnik’s, a struggling flower shop located on Skid Row. Following Seymour’s purchase of the plant, which he names Audrey II after his fellow employee and love interest Audrey (Elizabeth M. Crawford ’26), business starts blooming for Mushnik’s flower shop. There’s just one problem: Audrey II shows a worrying thirst for human flesh. Directed by Haley M. Stark ’25, the production was hilarious and comedic, and despite a few technical hiccups, proved a fun and delightfully gory escape for its audience.

The comedic aspect of “Little Shop of Horrors” was a highlight of the horror-comedy musical. The comedy chops of the cast were on full display, along with the New York accents which all the actors committed to whole-heartedly. A particularly hilarious scene occurred at the end of Act I as Seymour visited Dr. Orin Scrivello, a sadistic dentist (played by Mike D. Peckham ’25). McGinn embodied Seymour’s nervous state with fantastic comic timing as he jumped in and out of the dentist’s chair. Peckham, beside him, portrayed Orin in all his glorious menace — when he brought out a hand drill instead of a dentist’s drill, the audience roared with laughter.

Crawford also portrayed Audrey with the guileless naïveté necessary for her character. Her rendition of “Somewhere That’s Green” was sweetly hopeful, even as she ensured that the comedic aspect of the song was not ignored: Crawford emphasized the inane mundanity of Audrey’s dream of a simple suburban life, with lyrics resplendent with frozen dinners, Pine-Sol scented air, and a “fence of real chain link.”


Perhaps more hilarious, though, were the unplanned aspects of the production. In the middle of “Mushnik and Son,” in which Mushnik (Ben L.C. Arthurs ’27) convinced Seymour to join him as a partner in his florist shop, Arthurs’ shoe flew off the stage and into the pit orchestra below him. Despite this stroke of bad luck, the show went on to uproarious laughter, and Arthurs played it off well, dancing with Seymour in an absurd tango with a single shoe.

In the cozy Agassiz Theater, the pit was located directly below the stage, which enhanced the lived-in, intimate feel of the production. However, sound issues marred the audience’s understanding of the narrative, as the music overpowered the cast at times. It was difficult to hear the actors, particularly during “Now (It’s Just the Gas),” which was not helped by the gas mask that Arthurs wore, muffling his delivery. The production could perhaps have benefited from better sound engineering to aid the audience’s comprehension.

Despite the issues with sound, the show’s choreography by Nene Zhvania ’26 was dynamic and entertaining. Helmed by the trio of street urchins Ronette (Caron S. Kim ’24), Crystal (Gabrielle M. Greene ’27), and Chiffon (Paulet E. Del Castillo ’27), many of their exposition-heavy songs were choreographed to clue in the audience with a sense of fun and freshness. Each member of the trio played off against each other and led the cast in entertaining and enjoyable dance numbers.

Of course, no production of “Little Shop of Horrors” would be complete without the fearsome Audrey II. Professor Kate Brehm and Lucas J. Walsh ’24 led the team of puppet fabricators that brought the bloodthirsty plant to life. They produced multiple iterations of Audrey II from the show, ranging from a hand puppet to a creation that took four separate puppeteers to animate. Audrey II indeed drew the eye as it resided on stage right, and was another source of comic relief for the production. Voiced by an offstage Jordan J. Woods ’24, its deep voice provided much of the murderous glee which permeated throughout the show.

However, the fully-grown form of Audrey II felt inadequate for certain functions that it was required to perform. For instance, when it came time for the plant to devour Mushnik, realism was quickly abandoned as Mushnik’s head entered the plant just as the curtains quickly closed. Audrey’s death was similarly farcical as Crawford stood up after being mortally wounded, walked normally towards Audrey II and slipped backstage as the leaves — each puppeteered by an individual person — encircled her.

In the original off-off-Broadway production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” Audrey II appears in the finale with newly opened flowers, each featuring the face of someone that the plant has eaten to symbolize how capitalist greed has consumed its victims. Because of the show’s construction of the puppet, this detail was not possible to include, and the deceased instead appeared onstage covered in veils, which did not feel as thematically appropriate to the musical’s critique of capitalist culture. Despite this, the puppet was visually impressive with its large Venus flytrap-esque head, and the somewhat crude manner that the deaths played out with added to the slapstick humor of the production.

Harvard’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors” indulged fully in its silliness, resulting in a hilarious, laugh-out-loud musical that left its audience singing along even as they left the theater. Despite a few technical issues, the production more than made up for this with its exuberant energy and physical comedy. Simply put: “Little Shop of Horrors” ate.

“Little Shop of Horrors” ran at the Agassiz Theater from April 25 to April 28.

—Staff writer Angelina X. Ng can be reached at