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Little Shop of Horrors (Broadway Cast Recording)

Alan Menken & Howard Ashman

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Album Review

In 1978 Alan Menken and Howard Ashman created a new musical take on Roger Corman's 1960 film Little Shop Of Horrors, which became a Broadway hit. Both involve a man-eating, Venus flytrap-inspired plant named Audrey II, raised in a skid-row flower shop into a massive beast with excessive chloroplast (testosterone?) levels. Though the film was inventive and campy, Menken and Ashman's music music - a mix of doo-wop and lavish songs along the lines of Rocky Horror Picture Show — made the show's fun hilarious, its thrills outrageously gruesome. The soundtrack to Frank Oz's 1987 film adaptation carries on the musical's spirit: Steve Martin's rendition of "Dentist," about a demented psychopath who drills mouths (not just teeth) without novocaine, is achingly funny. "Downtown" is a full-powered choir of the slums; Rick Moranis works for an uptight flower shop manager ("He took me in, gave me shelter, a bed, crust of bread and a job, treats me like dirt and calls me a slob, which I am.") Martin and Moranis' sincere if limited singing is charming, and Ellen Greene returns as the original Audrey from the Broadway version; the way she belts out earth-shakingly high notes is bewildering, particularly on the lovely duet with Moranis, "Suddenly Seymour." The Four Tops' Levi Stubbs is a scene-stealer as Audrey II, particularly on the new track, the raunchy, boisterous finale "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space"; since film nominations must be new songs, it was added in hopes of an Academy Award (and did indeed receive a nomination.) When Disney added a tribute to Howard Ashman on the Beauty and the Beast credits after his death in 1992, it read: "To Ashman who gave a Mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul." He also gave a plant its appetite.

Biography

Born: 22 July 1949 in New York, NY

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Distinguished composer/lyricist Alan Menken is responsible for penning many of the catchiest tunes from Disney features of the late '80s onward, including such chart-toppers as "Whole New World" (from Aladdin) and "Colors of the Wind" (Pocahontas). Menken is a graduate of New York University and got his start when noted playwright Howard Ashman chose him and Lehman Engel to write the music for his 1978 adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Menken and Ashman had major success...
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Little Shop of Horrors (Broadway Cast Recording), Alan Menken
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