Mj Rodriguez, Amber Riley and George Salazar to Tackle 'Little Shop of Horrors' (Exclusive)

Amber Riley, Mj Rodriguez and George Salazar_Split - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Davidson & Choy Publicity

The classic sci-fi musical comedy is being reimagined for the Pasadena Playhouse with Riley taking the role originally voiced by a male performer and a "whole new take on Skid Row."

Little Shop of Horrors is hot again.

The Pasadena Playhouse has announced that it is mounting a production of the classic sci-fi musical comedy toplined by Be More Chill breakout George Salazar as Seymour, Pose star Mj Rodriguez as Audrey and Glee vet Amber Riley as the killer plant Audrey II, a role typically voiced by a male performer. 

Little Shop of Horrors has scheduled a run from Sept. 17-Oct. 20, with an official press opening set for Sept. 25.

The announcement comes just a day after news that the hit musical is also being revived off-Broadway at New York's Westside Theatre with stars Jonathan Groff, Tammy Blanchard and Christian Borle leading the cast. Tony winner Michael Mayer is set to direct that version, with preview performances starting Sept. 17 and an official opening on Oct. 17.

Pasadena Playhouse producing artistic director Danny Feldman has high hopes for the Southern California run, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "Our new electrifying production of Little Shop of Horrors will give our audiences the opportunity to see a show they know and love in a way they never have before. From a delicious new take on everyone's favorite singing plant to the stunningly talented cast, this is sure to be a landmark theatrical event for Los Angeles."

With book and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, the show will be directed at Pasadena Playhouse by Mike Donahue, a graduate of Harvard University and Yale School of Drama whose credits include The Legend of Georgia McBride, Collective Rage, The Moors and The Hunters.

The story follows a power-hungry carnivorous plant and, per the Playhouse, will feature "some deliciously devious new twists: a brand-new puppet concept for Audrey II, and a whole new take on Skid Row." The design team includes sets by Dane Laffrey; costumes by Danae McQueen; lighting by Josh Epstein; sound by Veronika Vorel; and choreography and puppet design by Sean Cawelti.

Little Shop of Horrors debuted in 1982 before taking up residence at New York's Orpheum Theatre, where it had a five-year run. Since then, it has inspired numerous productions all over the globe, and, of course, the cult classic 1986 film directed by Frank Oz and starring Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene.

Donahue said that with a "gritty early-Motown-meets-B-movie-horror-sci-fi vibe, Little Shop of Horrors has always been a favorite musical of mine." He added: "It is a thrill for me to delve deeply into this rich material with this spectacular, electric cast. I look forward to not only paying homage to this musical theater classic, but also exploring the themes that are still so much a part of our world today. More than anything, I look forward to Playhouse audiences having the time of their lives, and hearing our Little Shop with fresh ears, in a way they never have before.”

Salazar is best known for his work as Michael Mell in Be More Chill (his song "Michael in the Bathroom" became a fan favorite via the viral success of the original cast recording); the role earned him both Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. His other credits include The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, tick, tick… BOOM!, Here Lies Love and Godspell

Rodriguez can currently be seen starring as housemother Blanca on Ryan Murphy’s groundbreaking FX series Pose. She is no stranger to the stage, having made her off-Broadway debut in the New World Stages production of Rent as Angel before continuing on to New York City Center to star in an Encores! production of Runaways. Rodriguez next stars on the big screen in Rhys Ernst's Adam, which is part of this year's Outfest lineup. 

Riley received rave reviews for her turn as Effie White in Dreamgirls on London’s West End, a performance that garnered her the Olivier Award for best actress in a musical, as well as an Evening Standard Award. That production has long been rumored for a Broadway transfer. Winner of the 17th season of Dancing With the Stars, Riley has performed in many musicals including Cotton Club Parade and Hair

More information about the show, including tickets, can be found here.