Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor Talks Justice, Civic Engagement at Radcliffe Day


Church Says It Did Not Authorize ‘People’s Commencement’ Protest After Harvard Graduation Walkout


‘Welcome to the Battlefield’: Maria Ressa Talks Tech, Fascism in Harvard Commencement Address


In Photos: Harvard’s 373rd Commencement Exercises


Rabbi Zarchi Confronted Maria Ressa, Walked Off Stage Over Her Harvard Commencement Speech

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Preview: A Campy, Gory, Mesmerizing Comedy Musical

The cast of "Little Shop of Horrors," which runs at the Agassiz Theatre from April 25 to April 28.
The cast of "Little Shop of Horrors," which runs at the Agassiz Theatre from April 25 to April 28. By Courtesy of Katherine A. Harvey
By Zachary J. Lech, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard is home to all sorts of mesmerizing flowers: daffodils, tulips, and the glass flowers at the Museum of Natural History. Conspicuously absent, however, are giant, extraterrestrial, carnivorous flytrap-like plants. That, fortunately, is about to change on April 25 with the premiere of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Running through April 28 at the Agassiz Theatre and directed by Haley M. Stark ’25, the musical wraps up Harvard-Radcliffe Drama Club’s Spring 2024 season with humor, fun, and a fair amount of gore.

“Little Shop of Horrors,” a 1982 originally off-off-Broadway musical based on the 1960 film of the same name, is a farcical horror comedy set in a New York City flower shop. One of the employees, Seymour (Conall P. McGinn ’25), discovers a mysterious plant (Jordan J. Woods ’24-’25) that he later names Audrey II after his love interest and co-worker (Elizabeth M. Crawford ’26). Initially, Audrey II is great for business — but it quickly becomes apparent that the bloodthirsty and manipulative plant is not a boon for the store and its employees.

As Music Director Ada Fong ’25 acknowledged, it is difficult to do something novel with a cult classic, especially in light of copyright issues.

“‘Little Shop’ is such a well-known show so I think it’s a challenge to bring something fresh,” she said.

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, the team decided to stick to the tried and true source material and do it justice on stage.

“[The actors] bring these characters to life and sort of infuse authenticity into their world,” Fong said.

The effect is achieved not just through characterization and set design, but also the venue itself; the HRDC production of the “Little Shop of Horrors” utilizes a much more intimate space.

“There’s just a charm to this theater,” said Caron S. Kim ’24, who plays Ronette, one of the members of the chorus. “It’s not a black box theater. It’s not as big as the [Loeb] Proscenium, but it feels warm and comforting. It’s a really fitting venue to capture the feelings.”

The Agassiz Theatre is by no means small, but it allows for a much more immersive experience and a greater engagement with the audience than an off-Broadway or West End theater would. The decision was fully intentional. As Stark said, Agassiz was in fact the only venue the team was interested in so that they could turn the show into a “spectacle with insane design elements.” She described the production as “bright, and poppy, and vibrant” — “what escapism theater should be.”

“We wanted the show to eat the theater,” she added.

With the carnivorous Audrey II stealing the stage, it’s clear that the choice of the verb was not accidental. And indeed, the show doesn’t lack horror elements. Upon first seeing the show last year, producer Katrina E. Mortenson ’25 had the impression that “it’s quite gory.” But ultimately, as the production team and cast members uniformly emphasize, it’s the comedy that shines through.

“I think it’s more of a comedy with a little bit of horror in it,” Kim said. “I think it just does a really good job of taking some things that could potentially be a bit too much and spinning it on its head and making it quite comedic.”

At its core, “Little Shop of Horrors” is precisely that: an entertaining comedy, escapist theater at its finest, that has a solid dose of thick New York accents to boot.

But there can certainly be more to it than simply a theatrical haven from reality. As McGinn emphasized, the struggles of the characters are inherently relatable. Kim shared the sentiment.

“This plant is supposed to be a way that they finally break out of all of the hardship that they’ve been dealing with their entire lives, and then [they’re] realizing throughout the show that they held onto the wrong crutch,” she said. “Sometimes you do have to let go of certain things that you thought were going to be your saving grace, right?”

The show has certainly been a personal project for Haley M. Stark, the director. Seeing the production of “Little Shop of Horrors” at her local high school when she was in her eighth grade altered the trajectory of her life.

“It turned me from an athlete to a theater kid,” she said. “I remember sitting in the audience thinking, ‘This is the coolest thing.’”

Even if the HRDC production of the “Little Shop of Horrors” doesn’t change the lives of the audience, it might well be the “the coolest thing” they get to see this semester.

“Little Shop of Horrors” runs at the Agassiz Theatre from April 25 to April 28.

—Staff writer Zachary J. Lech can be reached at

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.