Musical Theatre Returns to IRT Via A Campy Cult Hit

May 7, 2024



Little Shop of Horrors- Courtesy of Zach Rosing. Used with permission.

After an eleven-year hiatus, musicals have returned to the Indiana Repertory Theatre in the form of “Little Shop of Horrors.”  Billed as a “horticultural horror musical, I saw a performance of the offbeat work on the OneAmerica Stage, Sunday, April 28.

Little Shop of Horrors- Courtesy of Zach Rosing. Used with permission.

Written by Howard Ashman with music by Alan Menken, the horror comedy rock musical is the third-longest-running, largest grossing Off-Broadway production in history. Premiering in 1982, it ran for five years. Later it was turned into a film that was released in 1986.  The story, set in Skid Row in the 1960s, follows a luckless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds voraciously on human blood. The music, composed by Menken, is in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop, and early Motown.

Directed by IRT Artistic Director Benjamin Hanna, with choreography by Breon Arzell, the production features a cast of non-local actors including Lucy Maria Godinez (Audrey), Jessy Jackson (Ronette), Dominique Lawson (Seymour), Kyle Patrick (multiple roles) and Allen Sledge (Audrey II voice), Tiffany Theona Taylor (Chiffon), and Raquelle Viteri (Crystal). Long time IRT actors Ryan Artzberger (Mushnik) and Rob Johansen (Audrey II) were also in the show.

Standing out was Kyle Patrick, for his explosive performance as Orin, the evil dentist, who viciously abuses Audrey, his girlfriend. Patrick showed spectacular acting chops playing the additional roles as Bernstein, Snip, Luce and Everyone Else.

Overseen by Music Director Adrew Burgoin, the entire cast turned in splendid vocal performance, accompanied by an ace seven-piece band also led by Burgoin who played piano. Positioned on an elevated platform on the set, the band faithfully interpreted  Menken’s now classic score that includes such favorites as “Skid Row,” “Dentist,” (“Git It Feed Me”) “Suddenly Seymour,” and “Summertime.”

Little Shop of Horrors- Courtesy of Zach Rosing. Used with permission.

The show’s production values, as expected, were of a slick Broadway quality, thanks to the creative team of national artists that included Scenic designer Czerion Lim, Costume Dessner Lzumi Inaba, Lighting Designer Dawn Chiang and Sound Designer Todd Mack. Not credited was the designer for the several spectacularly crafted Audrey II puppets featured in the show.

The 5 p.m. performance I attended appeared to be a full house which was diverse and filled with individuals of all ages and walks of life. The IRT has announced that next season it is presenting “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” which portends well for an organization which I believe has missed an opportunity to widen its audience during the past decade. Artistic Director Hanna is wise to bring the genre back. The laughter and joy I witnessed was proof that musical theatre not only entertains but also ga the power to bring people closer together.

For tickets and information about “Little Shop of Horrors” visit

















photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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