Virginia Theatre Festival to Present Beloved Cult Classic Musical Little Shop of Horrors

Opening July 11 at Culbreth Theatre

Robert Ariza (Seymour) and Mya Ison (Audrey) star in the Virginia Theatre Festival’s production of Little Shop of Horrors, set to run from July 11 through July 21 at the Cubreth Theatre. The beloved cult classic musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken will be directed by Jeffrey Meanza.
Robert Ariza (Seymour) and Mya Ison (Audrey) star in the Virginia Theatre Festival’s production of 'Little Shop of Horrors', set to run from July 11 through July 21 at the Cubreth Theatre. The beloved cult classic musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken will be directed by Jeffrey Meanza.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Tuesday, June 25, 2024 – Suddenly Seymour…is back!  The Virginia Theatre Festival is preparing to transport audiences into the unforgettable world of one of everyone’s favorite out-of-this-world musical sci-fi love stories when Little Shop of Horrors comes to the Culbreth Theatre from July 11-21. 

The beloved cult-classic musical from the legendary team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken will be directed by Jeffrey Meanza, who returns to VTF after helming last season’s acclaimed production of Ken Ludwig’s Dear Jack, Dear Louise

Little Shop of Horrors is the tale of lovestruck flower shop employee Seymour and his ill-fated quest to impress the object of his affections, his co-worker Audrey. Add in a cantankerous boss, a sadistic dentist, the sweet-singing denizens of Skid Row, a ravenous, man-eating succulent, and a vibrant Doo-Wop/Motown-inspired score, and it’s no wonder that this show has been delighting audiences around the world for decades.

“It is kind of the perfect musical,” Meanza said, “and it covers all the things I love - it combines science fiction with horror and musical theatre.“

With all the show’s inherent campiness, Meanza said, it is easy to miss the fact that the show goes deeper and hits close to home for so many people. “This show is so heartfelt,” he said. “From the very beginning when we meet Audrey and Seymour, they are talking about feeling trapped and wanting to get out. It feels so relatable. Watching them fall in love in awful circumstances, you find yourself wondering how they will survive. There is almost a Romeo and Juliet quality to the story, which is deeply moving.”

The show’s iconic score, featuring highlights including “Suddenly Seymour,” “Down on Skid Row,” “Somewhere That’s Green,” and more, both underscores the story’s meaning and adds endless layers of good old-fashioned fun, Meanza said. “The music spans so many genres across the 50s and 60s while maintaining that classic beautiful romanticism for which Ashman and Menken are so revered. There is this beautiful depth, but it is also just a good bop. The show is a really good time from the very beginning.”

The cast, featuring actors from New York, North Carolina and here in Virginia, is highlighted by a sense of inclusivity that was important to Meanza. “I wanted to establish this community of people who all reflect the diversity of an urban environment and who are all connected to each other,” he said. “We are not necessarily placing our story in any specific place, but it has a Brooklyn feel, where everyone kind of grew up together.”

The[R(1]  bulk of the cast officially arrived on June 11, but a final cast member is set to arrive a little later – in a series of boxes. Audrey II, the most menacing plant in musical theatre history, will be acted and voiced by Je’Shaun Jackson. It is particularly important to Meanza that the character is always at the center of the action “I am really interested in Audrey II not being a theatrical device, but instead a fully embodied character, so we plan to work hard to integrate the puppet into the staging so that Je’Shaun and our puppeteers can be an essential part of the process and can be as responsive as they possibly can be to the other performers.”

While it is virtually impossible to experience this show without having fun, Meanza also hopes audiences will leave the show with plenty to think about. ‘I hope that people come away from this production thinking about what really matters to them,” he said, “and ultimately realizing that what really matters in life is not the trappings like fame and money, but rather love and connection – the things that will sustain us the most.”

Little Shop of Horrors book and lyrics are by Howard Ashman, music is by Alan Menken, and is based on the film by Roger Corman, screenplay by Charles Griffith. The show was originally produced by the WPA Theatre. Little Shop of Horrors (Broadway Version) is presented through special arrangement with and licensed by Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

Casting by The Casting Collaborative/Jason Styres.

The 50th Anniversary Virginia Theatre Festival season will also include productions of 50 Years and Counting: A Musical Revue (June 27-30 in the Culbreth Theatre) and The 39 Steps (July 25-August 4 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre). Tickets for VTF’s 2024 season are on sale now. 

The Virginia Theatre Festival is a program of the University of Virginia, with support from the Office of the Executive Vice President and the Provost, Vice Provost for the Arts, The Caplin Foundation, The Thomas and Carolyn Witt Foundation, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Department of Drama. The 2024 Virginia Theatre Festival is also supported by a generous grant from The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.

Little Shop of Horrors is presented by Charlottesville Radio Group and Woodard Properties, and supported by Mincer’s.

VTF donors provide essential support to the organization, while enjoying exclusive benefits like , invitations to special events, behind-the-scenes access, and more. For more information on ways to support the upcoming season, visit

To learn more about the Virginia Theatre Festival and its 50th anniversary season, visit


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