There are quite a few iconic roles for women in musical theatre that actresses long to take on. And now Maude Apatow is bringing a new kind of life to one of them: Audrey. Little Shop of Horrors has gone from a stage show to a fan favorite movie musical and back to a Broadway show. But the most recent Off-Broadway revival has nailed exactly what works about the show.
From Alan Menken’s classic songs to the sweet nerdy Seymour we know and love, the show is one that just makes you feel good and reminds us all why musical theatre is a beautiful art form. The Off-Broadway production, staged by Michael Mayer, has had many different combinations of Seymour and Audrey in its open-ended run.
It started with Jonathan Groff as Seymour, Tammy Blanchard as Audrey, and Christian Borle as the Dentist. And has gone through many a Seymour since with actors like Gideon Glick, Jeremy Jordan, Conrad Ricamora, Skylar Astin, and now Matt Doyle. But the Audreys have only been Blanchard, Lena Hall, and now Apatow. The point is: the show has gone through casting changes but that’s the beauty of it.
It is a masterclass in what stunt casting can do and the show, which is one of my favorite musicals, can just keep living on with new takes on these characters we love. You know what happens and you know who Seymour and Audrey are. But you don’t know how an actor will bring their story to life. Or who might make a different choice with a character like Orin Scrivello DDS (And Bryce Pinkham was brilliant!).
Which is why Apatow’s take on Audrey was so refreshingly fun to see.
A new life for Audrey
One of the complaints I’ve always had about how Audrey is portrayed is that a lot of people just try to recreate what Ellen Greene did. They copy the accent, the way she sang all of Audrey’s iconic songs. It rarely felt new and while the first time I saw this production I saw a beautifully talented and brilliant understudy bringing Audrey to life, seeing Maude Apatow felt different. It was her choices within Audrey’s songs that really set her apartment.
For the most part, actresses can and do belt “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly Seymour”. It’s just the way it has always been but hearing Apatow use a bit more of her head voice in “Somewhere That’s Green” made me pause and think that maybe she doesn’t have a belt. Which is why when she got into “Suddenly Seymour,” I truly leaned back in my seat and said wow. Because it was an amazing choice for the role.
It gave Audrey and that song more weight to her arc as a whole. When you think about “Suddenly Seymour” as a song, it is about her realizing that Seymour has always been there waiting for her and to help her. And the choice to make “Somewhere That’s Green” more whimsical vs. the belting of “Suddenly Seymour” was honestly perfection.
(Featured image: Bruce Glikas/Getty Images)
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