Arts & Culture

Sarasota's Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe opens 'Little Shop of Horrors'

If a theater company's looking for a fun, lively and quirky musical for the Halloween season, there are a couple of great and obvious choices: "The Rocky Horror Show" and "Little Shop of Horrors."

Sarasota's Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is going with the latter, starting on Wednesday.

The story, about a socially inept florist who develops a talking plant with an appetite for human flesh that cannot be sated, comes from a cult-classic, non-musical horror-comedy film from 1950, directed by Roger Corman and featuring a obscure young actor named Jack Nicholson.

The musical came 22 years later, with music from an unknown composer named Alan Menken. Menken, of course, would become the go-to guy for Disney musicals, including "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin" and "Pocahontas." (The stage musical of "Little Shop" was later turned into another film, in 1986, starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Steve Martin.)

The show's songs, which span genres from pop ballads to rockers to songs that summon Phil Spector's girl groups (there's a chorus of singers named Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette) ought to be a perfect fit for WBTT's strong vocal performers.

One of the main characters "Little Shop of Horrors" is Audrey II, the human-eating plant who has a couple of the show's best songs.

Details: Oct. 15-Nov. 16, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1646 10th Way, Sarasota. Show times: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $29.50. Information: 941-366-1505,

-- Marty Clear