“Fun” was the word that book and lyrics writer Howard Ashman used to describe his goal, with composer Alan Menken, for the man-eating plant-from-outer-space musical “Little Shop of Horrors.” On what planet could anyone say that they failed?
This, in case you missed the amusing 1986 movie with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin or the professional and school productions that still pop up like weeds, is the show with that ravenous plant crooning “Feed me all night long” with Temptations-style danger. It’s also the one with the scene-stealing sicko biker dude jubilantly singing “Be a Dentist” (which, in fact, he is), and with a Motown girl group shoop-shooping their own wise commentary all the way through. Fun, fun, fun!
Yet “Little Shop,” which opened off Broadway in 1982 and stayed there for more than 2,000 performances, is currently wilting at the Olney Theatre Center. Nobody seems to be enjoying the joke except James Gardiner, whose bashful cockeyed grin and cheery singing as the nerdy floral shop assistant Seymour (who learns to nurse the mysterious monster plant with blood pricked from his finger) gives the show nearly all the pep it gets.