Little Shop Director's Cut

Saturday night, the New York Film Festival, bless their little filmic hearts, screened the director’s cut of Little Shop – complete with the original ending. More on the film itself next week, but today I thought I’d tell you about the Q&A after the film.

Frank Oz has to be one of the most charming men in show business.  He spoke a bit about working with Howard.  After writing the screenplay, Howard chose not to work on restructuring the screenplay to Frank’s film specifications, so Frank restructured the screenplay himself, though he emphasized that the dialog remained all Howard*.  To paraphrase the great Oz, why would you rewrite genius?

I do have some issues with the restructuring, mostly in the latter half of the film.  But I’ll say more on that next week.

Alan talked about the genesis of the show – how Howard fell in love with the movie when a teenager.  He also talked a little about some false stylistic starts on the show, singing one particularly silly ditty.  And he also talked about the show’s origins at the WPA Theater on Fifth Avenue and 19th Street .

What a wild and wonderful place that was – the theater was on the third floor of a seedy “office” building (there was a “massage” parlor on the second floor).  I still get nostalgic when I walk past that building (not for the massage parlor, I hasten to add, but for that magical little theater).

Once the show opened at the WPA to long lines of theater goers, getting backing for a move to a theater for a longer run wasn’t that tough.

By the way, one thing that didn’t come up but which is really true, is that getting the backers is just half the battle.  Some producers come looking for a quick buck and want to take a show to the wrong venue.  Thankfully, Howard was able to move the show with his direction and sensibility (and most of his cast) intact to the ideal theater – the Orpheum on Second Avenue.

On Saturday, both Alan and Ellen sang.  I’ll let you guess what Ellen sang but I’ll just say no one sells Somewhere That’s Green like Ms. Greene.  One of our Feed Me correspondents, has posted a You Tube video of Alan and Ellen’s performance, so you can check it out.

I’m sorry that Alan and Ellen didn’t take the opportunity to sing, We’ll Have Tomorrow.  How great would that have been?  I have a feeling it would have taken way more rehearsal time than either one of them had.

Inside story – before the screening, Ellen showed Bill Lauch and me a red pocket square of Howard’s and some photos that Bill had sent her after Howard died.  She had them in her handbag to keep Howard with her during the screening.

The evening ended with the playing of a demo of Howard singing Where Have The Girls Gone. I am proud to tell you that playing it was my idea.  I wanted Howard represented and I’ve always really loved this song. It’s an homage to the girl groups of yesterday, as represented of course by Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon. Howard and Alan wrote it to run under the credits for the film but it was never used.

So, I am happy to report that Howard had the last word.  He would have liked that.