Watch with me: Falsettos 1993
I’m sorry it’s so long, I typed everything I thought when watching it
Cast: OBC except Jason
Marvin: Michael Rupert
Whizzer: Stephen Bogardus
Mendel: Chip Zien
Trina: Barbara Walsh
Jason: Sivan Cotel
Dr. Charlotte: Heather MacRae
Cordelia: Carolee Carmello (love this name)
Disclaimers: Please don’t judge this is just my opinions and I am in no way professional, I am still learning so apologies for any incorrect terminology. The song titles were put in after I watched it so it could be off a bit
Edits are in purple
Enjoy my commentary :)
4 Jews In A Room Btching
Four Jews is so q u i c k
I really like this cast already
Love Is Blind
The “I want it all” during love is blind is sang with a lot more anger and neediness
The Thrill Of First Love
It’s really weird seeing Marvin+ Whizzer being a lot less affectionate
I like hearing the different vocals
It’s so similar and so different at the same time
My Fathers A Homo
I like “my fathers a homo” more in this one, the vocals are stronger and Marvin+ Mendel are more interactive
I love how all the staging is on wheels
I love this so much
This gives me heathers vibes (the bit where Jason, Marvin and Trina sing/chant “whizzer”)
Jason+ Whizzer were definitely best friends
This Had Better Come To A Stop
I am obsessed with Michael Ruperts voice
He sang “isn’t this wonderful” with a lot less anger than Christian Borle did (no hate, both were amazing)
“And still the bastard divorced me”is sung as Stephanie J Block did in the cast recording (an octave (I think I’ve heard this somewhere) higher than Block did in the pro shot) yes I put brackets in brackets
“This had better come this had better to a, this this this this, this had better come to an end” (probably not an exact quote). I love the way this was performed, the way the whole cast was around Marvin singing at him and almost blaming him for everything
I’m Breaking Down
This song is such a mood
I am amazed and tbh surprised by how different this song is shown and “choreographed”(this isn’t the right word ik) but I love it
I prefer this version of “I’m breaking down” to the revival (again no hate, just my opinion)
I am so obsessed with Barbara Walsh’s take on “I’m breaking down” I actually love it. Please watch just this song if you don’t wanna watch the whole musical (26:10- 30:36)
Please Come To Our House
It seems so much quicker but i think I’m playing tricks on myself
I’m not sure what to think about this one
Tbh I am laughing at the end
A Marriage Proposal
Slightly odd watching this cause they’re not sitting next to each other (Mendel and Trina)
His voice is beautiful
Chip and Michaels voices lay over (not right wording) so nicely
I like trinas outfit
March Of The Falsettos
Let’s see what damage happens here
Absolutely terrifying 10/10
I am genuinely scared now
The Chess Game
THEY’RE SAT ON DIFFERENT SIDES
I’m not a big fan of this so far (no hate)
AHHHH I LOVE THAT THE CHAIRS ARE ON WHEELS
Loved that ending (to the song)
I wanna know if the cast had any mishaps with the furniture/props
I wonder if it ever went into the audience
Making a home
I missed like that whole song cause I was thinking about the chairs falling off stage
The Games I Play
This is one of my favourites from falsettos
Stephan’s Whizzer doesn’t seem as angry in this
Wow that belting (don’t think that’s said right?)
Marvin Hits Trina
I am sat here with my mouth wide open cause I love this so much
Like seriously it’s amazing
This is now my 5th time watching this song
I’m actually obsessed
WHACK made me laugh
I Never Wanted To Love You
I really love this song
Same Jason, same (I hate the world)
This song is so powerful because it’s about how Marvin (a gay man) wants to be straight, wants to love women and doesn’t want to love men. It’s about how he forced himself into a hetro marriage, hurting his wife, his son and himself
William Finn did an incredible job on this song
Father To Son
As someone who doesn’t really like this song (revival or obc) it’s not terrible
Mendel really calling me out here
I love how the audience still laughs at that bit, even in the 90s
I think they wanted you to know that it was 1981
How did “spiky families” turn into “spiky lesbians”
I love the lesbians
This is chaotic
What if Michael didn’t stop him and he just carried on rolling
Year Of The Child
Chip (Mendel) looks so awkward in the background
Why is he talking to Marvin when he says “I’ll bring women from the wrong side of the track”?
“Isn’t he an asshole” “yes he is” are my favourite lines
THE LESBIANS RETURN
I love that harmony (I don’t think that’s the right why of putting it)
Miracle Of Judaism
I think the lyrics are different? I cba to check rn
The Baseball Game
Their so a g g r e s s i v e
THE BALD SPOT
I love this version of the song
Whizzer would have made an amazing father 😭
Wait was he meant to catch that
I think he was
A Day In Falsettoland
DIANNE CAROLINE IS THERE BUT ITS NOT DIANE (I have no clue what I meant)
I am in love with this cast
It’s kinda quick but not really
🎶Nobody died 🎶
The lesbians are more intimate
I love the lyric “you save lives and I save chicken fat, I can’t fcking deal with that” I have no reasoning
Too many numbers, I’m confused
Again this is very chaotic and I love it
OMG I- I CANT
Everyone Hates His Parents
I love the beginning of this song
I love his facial expressions (Sivan Cotel)
Im am genuinely confused as to how “Look at your couch, it is homo-baroque, Don’t talk to me about taste.” became “you have paintings of dcks don’t talk to me about taste”
This is so different and it’s hilarious
HOW DOES SIVAN KEEP A STRAIGHT FACE
Jason has the right idea when it comes to confrontation
YEAH HES A PSYCHIATRIST
What More Can I Say?
Please don’t judge but I don’t really like this song (revival or obc)
I stayed for Michael Ruperts voice
Something Bad Is Happening
Genuine question- is that a slur? (“People might think I’m very —— ish”)
I was daydreaming and I missed half the song
Cordelia blaming herself:’(
The lyrics are quite different
I’m not ready for this
Whizzers clothes are loser with this cast as well (not just the obrc)
Marvin caught him 🥺
Holding To The Ground
She looks kinda awkward stood there
WHOM ACTUALLY sorry
IT WON’T BE ALRIGHT YOU LIAR
Days Like This
The hug makes me wanna cry (that comes later don’t worry)
I love this song with the obc
Cancelling The Bar Mitzvah
I forgot about this song
Their voices go quite nicely together
I like Stephan Borgardgus’ whizzer, it’s very different to Andrew Rannells’ whizzer. I do love both tho
I hate it so much that whizzer has just excepted that he’s going to die, but Marvin hasn’t yet and it adds a whole other level of sadness to it
Cordelia’s so ✨bouncy✨
Marvin and Whizzer are so much more affectionate in act 2 and that says a lot about Marvins character and how much he has learned to accept it and he can’t change it.
Another Miracle Of Judaism
How old was Sivan when he did this? He looks older in some parts then others (he was only 11?!?! He’s looks a lot older in this bit!)
Something Bad Is Happening (Reprise)
I wanna know if whizzer knew that Marvin had it as well
That “euh” gives me Christian Borle vibes
You Gotta Die Sometime
Time for a happy song ig (sarcasm)
I need to see Stephan and Andrews performances at the same time
I- wow 😳
He’s asking for more time 😭
Jason’s Bar Mitzvah
Wait am I blind or Jason or not there (I don’t think he was at the time)
I rly hate that line and idk why (“oh mummy”)
Trinas still trying to fix everything, I find this so sad, she’s been trying to fix everything ,from her husband’s life and now to whizzers inevitable death, throughout the entire musical
When Mendel sings “Son of whizzer” it makes me happy because (in reference to “what would I do?”) Marvin sings “only one my child would allow” and it just shows that whizzer was a great father and I love that. Also Mendel mentions Whizzer before himself
And I’m crying
As is the person filming
What Would I Do?
Time for more crying
I’m not gonna annotate any if the lyrics in this song cause we would be here for a while
NO DONT LEAVE
I really relate to the person filming
“Lovers live and die fortissimo” is such a beautiful and powerful line.
I did compare the revival and obc a lot, but in reality they are very different and tbh I couldn’t tell you which I prefer
I will be watching that again
That was amazing
This was fun, I think I’ll do another one another time :)
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Little Shop of Horrors: The Balancing Act of A Tragic Hero
An essay diving deeply into why Seymour is a tragic hero and what that means for the plot points, as well as how the story balances the darker plot hooks. For the purposes of this essay, the 2019 Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors is what will be used for references; the movie version will not be used here.
This essay will contain spoilers for the stage version of Little Shop of Horrors. The themes of this show, while it is a comedy, are somewhat heavy and include murder and domestic abuse. There is also a very mild reference to cutting, though it is related to horror elements rather than mental health.
Little Shop of Horrors is an award-winning horror-comedy musical based on the 1960 dark comedy film, The Little Shop of Horrors. The show opened off-Broadway in 1982, and has maintained a significant legacy. Various revivals, a Broadway production, an 80’s film, and its popularity with school and amateur theatre groups have kept the show in relevance.
The music is inspired by 60’s Motown and rock and roll. The music written by Alan Menken thematically combines the high stakes while still being a fun and exciting sound, and the lyrics by Howard Ashman contain dry wit and plot hooks that remain just as compelling the hundredth time you hear them.
For many people, Little Shop was their introduction to musical theatre. If I’m honest, I wish I was one of them. (I’m gen z and was introduced to theatre by Hamilton. Nothing against Hamilton, but it has a different significance than Little Shop.)
It was my introduction to the “respectable” musicals, in a sense. I’m not one of those people who thinks that the most popular shows aren’t worth anything; I listen to Beetlejuice and Mean Girls just as much, if not more, than the next theatre kid in the bizarre year that is 2021. But to older theatre fans, nothing compares to the classics of Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. In many ways, Little Shop bridges that gap; it has a fast-paced, upbeat score similar to the dance numbers of more modern musicals, but was performed on stage for the first time before the year 2000. In a twisted way, age is what makes a musical acceptable to the snobs of theatre, and despite its outdated references (Howdy Doody? How many people don’t even know what that is?), Little Shop was truly ahead of its time.
But all of this is beside the point. I could talk about the elitism in the theatre community for ages (and will, if anyone is interested), but really what I’m going to talk about is the sheer brilliance of the writing in this show. It’s a show that makes you sympathize with characters who, in all honesty, don’t deserve sympathy. While many movies, novels, musicals, and other media have made people sympathize with murderers, their backstory usually involves some tragedy. The death of a loved one, wrongful imprisonment, insanity.
Seymour’s backstory, while a bit depressing, doesn’t actually give him an excuse for murder. If you lay the facts out simply, there’s no reason for us to not only sympathize with him, but actively root for him. Yet we do.
That’s what I want to analyze. What is it about Seymour that makes him so likable? How does the plot affect that, and how does that affect the plot?
A Tragic Hero (Who Is Only Mildly Tragic and Is Not A Hero)
A “tragic hero” is the name given to the protagonist, or main character, of a tragedy. In this context, a “tragedy” only refers to a story with tragic elements. It can end happily (although usually not), and it’s possible that it’s not even sad. If the conflict that the main character faces includes elements of tragedy, they are a tragic hero.
Seymour Krelborn fits this definition, loosely, depending on how one looks at it.
He comes from a poor background (“All my life I’ve always been poor”) and “started life as an orphan, a child of the street.” He is treated terribly by Mr. Mushnik, the man who took him in. Seymour’s background is utterly and completely sad.
Things begin to look up for Seymour after the Audrey II begins to bring him success. More than that, he kisses Audrey, his one true love. But there’s a catch: the violence required to feed the plant. The only “good” that Seymour sees in his life comes directly from his most evil moments.
The end of Little Shop of Horrors is not happy. It is not poetic justice. It is, plain and simple, sad. Not for the most obvious reason, the damnation of all humanity; no, it is sad because Seymour and Audrey do not get their happily ever after, something the audience wants despite all of Seymour’s flaws and mistakes.
It is the story itself that points out just how flawed Seymour is. It is the writing that leads the audience to forgive him.
The Plot Skeleton
Every story has a plot; we have a character, who must do something, and in the end they have either succeeded or failed, learned a lesson, or had some other impact on the audience.
The plot of Little Shop follows a man named Seymour Krelborn, an orphan in New York City. He works at a florist’s shop for a man named Mushnik, and is in love with a woman named Audrey.
Seymour comes into possession of an odd, flytrap-like plant (dubbed the “Audrey II”) that feeds on human blood. The plant grows at an exponential rate, giving fame to Mushnik’s store as well as Seymour. In order to keep up with the demands of the plant, Seymour turns to murder.
Ultimately, Seymour and Audrey are both eaten by the plant, and cuttings are taken to sell worldwide; Audrey II takes over the planet, and our show ends with a final song lecturing against greed and warning the audience to, no matter what, “don’t feed the plants.”
Using the plot diagram that every kid saw at least once in a grammar class, it would look somewhat like this:
Introduction — Seymour is a poor orphan. He works for Mushnik and loves Audrey.
Rising Action — Seymour receives the plant, dubbed the Audrey II.
Conflict — Seymour learns that the Audrey II feeds on human blood. The plant grows at an alarming rate and brings fame to Seymour and to Mushnik’s flower shop.
Climax — Seymour, after killing people to feed the plant, decides it must be destroyed. He is eaten by Audrey II.
Falling Action — Plant cuttings are taken and sold worldwide.
Conclusion — Audrey II takes over the world; Finale.
This does, technically, give an accurate description of what happened. What it fails to show is what the important points in between are. Arguably, the motives Seymour had for choosing specific victims is more important than just the killing. No emotional connection can be had with him as a character without diving beyond the plot.
The Plot’s Emotional Beats
While a plot diagram can give us an accurate summary of what happened, it doesn’t carry the weight of word choice and timing. The writing of the show manages to tell this story in a way that, while following the diagram, is infinitely more impactful.
Seymour’s First Appearance
The audience is introduced to Seymour Krelborn during the song “Skid Row (Downtown),” the first number after the Prologue. The tone shifts suddenly from the campy style of the opening, into a New York slum filled with people lamenting their situations.
Seymour is one of them. He is introduced to us as a poor orphan with nothing in the world. He has a job, at Mushnik’s florist’s shop, but he is treated horribly. He would do anything to get out of Skid Row.
It is this introduction to Seymour that cements him as a hero, despite the total lack of heroic deeds in the show. The audience looks at this miserable, meek and timid man who wants to rise above his start in life. This is a familiar story to many, and Seymour’s insistence on leaving (“Someone show me a way to get outta here, ‘cause I constantly pray I'll get outta here. Please, won't somebody say I'll get outta here. Someone gimme my shot, or I'll rot here.”) gives the audience something to root for: Seymour’s chance at success, at a life beyond Skid Row.
That Amazing New Plant, Audrey II
The introduction of an alien space plant gives us stakes. Seymour has this never before seen species, and people want to see it.
There’s only one catch: the plant won’t grow.
Seymour scratches himself on rose thorns (immediately after sarcastically remarking to the Audrey II, nicknamed “Twoey,” that he’s tried everything to make it grow except blood) and is amazed that the plant immediately perks up. The tone of the show is beginning to shift.
Despite Seymour’s new found success, the audience knows that nothing good can come from feeding a plant human blood. While it’s unlikely that there’s anyone watching who has zero knowledge on Little Shop, even someone who is unfamiliar would have a bad taste in their mouth when “something out of Edgar Allen Poe has happened.”
Seymour is flying blind here, trying to make the best for himself. How could he be anything but the victim?
Another one of the souls inhabiting Skid Row is Orin Scrivello, the local dentist. We get a glimpse into his office, where we learn that...
1. He enjoys inflicting pain on others.
2. He regularly gets high before working.
Both of these things are to be kept in mind when we learn more about Seymour’s love interest, Audrey.
She is the dentist’s girlfriend.
His evil tendencies do not stop with his patients. Audrey is just as head-over-heels in love with Seymour as he is with her, but she is too afraid to break up with the dentist. In the song “Somewhere That’s Green,” she references her broken arm, given to her by her boyfriend.
When the Audrey II reveals that it can talk, and uses this ability to demand more blood from Seymour. At this point in the show, he has been feeding the plant by cutting his hands. It has grown too large, though; that won’t be enough to support it.
Seymour doesn’t believe he can justify killing people for the plant... until Audrey and the dentist walk by. We see his abusive behavior firsthand, and the Audrey II says what everyone is thinking: kill the dentist.
And Seymour does.
As act one draws to a close, Seymour has become a killer. It’s important to note, though, that he didn’t kill Orin directly. The dentist strapped on his gas mask before starting a dental procedure on Seymour, who had brought a gun but couldn’t find the courage to shoot. The dentist couldn’t get the mask off and died of asphyxiation, with the tragic hero watching in horror.
This is important because, had Seymour killed directly the first time, his descent into unforgivable actions would be too fast. While Seymour did not help Orin, ultimately the dentist’s own stupidity is what killed him. He got what he deserved, as far as the audience is concerned.
Suddenly Seymour Commits Murder
With the dentist out of the way, Seymour and Audrey have nothing standing in their way, and they kiss. Everything seems perfect.
It does not stay this way for long.
In the first act, Mr. Mushnik asked Seymour to legally become his son. He did this because of Seymour’s newfound success: if Seymour stopped working for Mushnik, he might leave, along with the business he brought to the store. His solution was to adopt Seymour.
But now, he’s caught Seymour kissing the dentist’s girlfriend soon after Orin’s... disappearance. He’s suspicious.
Seymour is afraid. He’s worried that Mushnik will go to the police, so he needs to think fast. The day’s receipts and the cash from the register aren’t in the safe, he tells his adopted father, they’re in the plant.
Unlike the death of Orin Scrivello, Seymour’s murder of Mr. Mushnik is much more deliberate. When asked how to get the money out of the plant, he says to “Just... knock.” For the first time, Seymour shows a coldness that may finally be waking up to audience to the fact that he has chosen this path, and not out of ignorance.
He doesn’t want this to keep going, though. It was a choice he made, but is now one he regrets. There’s only one catch: he believes Audrey will not love him anymore if he’s a nobody like before.
There’s a shift in motive. It isn’t about money or fame, not anymore. Now, he is killing for one reason alone: he loves Audrey. He is not willing to take the chance of losing her.
There is a phrase online that’s quite popular. “A hero would sacrifice you to save the world, but a villain would sacrifice the world to save you.”
Seymour is the villain.
He does not care how many people have to die for him to be with Audrey, as long as she loves him. That’s what matters.
The Audrey II is manipulative, though. And as soon as Seymour isn’t there to stop it, it eats Audrey.
So, what now? “The vegetable must be destroyed.”
A poor man from a poor neighborhood doesn’t stand a chance against a man-eating plant from outer space. Seymour must have known this.
It didn’t matter to him, though. The heartbroken scream of “you ate the only thing I ever loved” signals to the audience that he has been pushed past the point of no return; even if Seymour were to survive the show, he could not be the same.
This plant took everything from him. And he wants it to hurt. Hurt the way he’s hurting now that Audrey is dead. He will do anything to bring down this damn plant, even if it kills him.
The tragedy of Little Shop of Horrors ends with his quest for revenge making him the next meal of the plant. His only wish was to at least take the plant down with him, and he couldn’t even do that.
Conclusion: Don’t Feed The Plants
Little Shop is a modern classic of theatre. It has catchy songs, a bizarre plot, and a script friendly enough for high school drama clubs to perform.
More than that, though, it’s a story of a man killing people to feed to an alien plant. That doesn’t seem that worthy of our attention. So why is it held in such high regard?
Simple: the plot beats are perfectly placed. Most people don’t even notice how the timing of certain lines and lyrics is specifically meant to change their feelings about a character. Really, all media does this: we root for a character because the author wants us to. Little Shop makes this clear, when looked at critically.
As a tragic hero, Seymour is as good as it gets. He’s a villain as well as a victim. His tragic end was brought upon him entirely by his own actions, yet we pity him. We pity him so much so, that the movie version gave him and Audrey a happy ending specifically because audiences found the original too depressing.
Writing a true tragic hero is difficult. It shows just how much planning has to go into everything, even in a show that looks like a silly mess of plot. It’s a balancing act; we are supposed to sympathize with this character, but he still needs to do *something* that makes his end logical. If Seymour were a true victim who had no flaw, his death would have been meaningless.
I do sympathize with Seymour. I remember listening to Little Shop for the first time and tearing up at “Skid Row (Downtown),” instantly clinging to this character as someone who needed to be protected. Seymour’s eyes are the ones we view this world through; if I was in his shoes, would I have done the same?
No. I’m a coward. But I’d have thought about it, and through the lens of fiction, I can see just how easy the path he takes is.
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