Little Shop of Horrors Live (hypothetical)

edited December 2013 in Theater
Television Without Pity included Little Shop of Horrors in a list of musicals they would like to see done as TV specials.

Here's the article:

Here's the relevant portion in image form:

With the exception of Now (It's Just the Gas), nearly everything in the show takes place either inside or right outside the shop. That lends itself perfectly to a television production. And if they could get the rights to re-use the puppet designs from the Broadway show, then the end result could actually look really good. Personally, though, I don't think the "live" aspect of The Sound of Music should be emulated. Multiple takes are an advantage, and I don't think that shooting something live really makes a difference to a television audience.


  • I don't know. For me, half the fun is the live aspect. I love seeing moments like Carrie Underwood tripping during the title song in The Sound of Music -- Though I felt so bad for her, the poor thing. She was most nervous about that song, she was probably freaking out about the show in general, and to literally trip up five minutes into the three-hour show probably didn't feel good. -- and hearing her out of breath in "The Lonely Goatherd," or Jon Cypher accidentally singing over Dorothy Stickney's part in a song during Cinderella. Live TV is an artform that is dying, and, now that AOTS is off the air, I can't really think of any regular live show, and it's only relegated to award shows. I really do want more live productions on TV; it's really the closest we can get to a stage production airing.

    And Little Shop, in my opinion, would be easier to do live on TV than Sound of Music was. It has a smaller cast (with only eight main characters and a handfull of background actors), it's much shorter (I can easily see it only lasting about two and a half -- maybe just two! -- hours), they would only need a handful of sets (the shop, Orin's office, Skid Row, and, if they wanna go off the film, an alley set for Suddenly Seymour and the Green reprise), a smaller orchestration that could conceivably be performed live, and the only real technical challenge being The Plant. And even if the don't get the rights to the Broadway puppet, they can still hire someone who knows what they're doing when it comes to puppets, like the Henson Company, and get a great-looking puppet.

    Not only that, but I really, truly, honestly think a nice, small, soft (and shortened) version of "We'll Have Tomorrow" would work perfectly in a televised version of the show.

    My only real concern would be the swearing in the end of act two. Remember, The Plant says "tough titties" and "no shit, Sherlock," two things you can't say on network TV, though I think if they pre-record just those two lines, and bleep them, it could still work.

    Also, it brings up the question of do they do "Bigger Than Hula-hoops," or do they do "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space?" Do they do the theatrical ending or the happy ending? How will they do "Don't Feed the Plants" and will it work?

    And, though I do love the idea of the living-Muppet that is Jim Parsons playing Seymour, I'm not really too crazy about the other casting choices.
  • The Sound of Music special was based on the stage version, right? If we're following that model, then the theatrical ending and Mean Green Mother are both probably out of the question.

    I feel that Don't Feed the Plants works best when the actors don't actually show their faces. That makes it seem as though they've literally been reincarnated as plants. My favorite of all the interpretations that I've read about is when the actors wear masks that are painted to resemble their faces, as seen in the ending of the Corman film. This makes it seem as though the characters are trapped in some sort of limbo, but the effect is fake enough that it probably wont upset anyone too much. I think this was used in the original off-Broadway production, but I'm not actually sure. I know that it was used in the Japanese TV special, which was based on the off-Broadway production.
  • I think you're right about the theatrical ending to the film, but I'm not so sure about Mean Green Mother. Remember, Maria and Georg's song in the original production of The Sound of Music was "An Ordinary Couple," and the TV special replaced it with the film's "Something Good."
  • I don't think "Mean Green Mother" can work outside a cinematic context. The song is designed to accompany a scene in which Audrey II actively attacks and overpowers Seymour. However, in "Bigger Than Hula-Hoops", Audrey II doesn't have to do a darn thing. Seymour literally climbs inside his mouth. Thousands of high schools stage this successfully every year.
  • I know. But I'm worried that some producer will go "more people know this, put it in."
  • SInce we're talking hypothetical - Howard's hypothetical estate wouldn't let those hypothetical producers use the film. Unless those hypothetical producers license the film rights, not the show rights, in which case Warner trumps the hypothetical estate.
  • "Personally, though, I don't think the "live" aspect of The Sound of Music should be emulated. Multiple takes are an advantage, and I don't think that shooting something live really makes a difference to a television audience."

    It bears mentioning that they didn't get 18 million people to watch Sound of Music Live as it was being broadcast (21 million I believe after they added DVR and online ratings) just because they were showing it. Zadan and Meron successfully created live event television and had an unprecedented success. The "live" factor was a huge one towards its success and importance.
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