Within minutes of my meeting Jonathan Groff, he asks if I would like a slice of cherry pie, and then, only a short time later, if I would like to be eaten by a giant plant. The first I readily accept because Groff and the rest of the cast of Little Shop of Horrors have thoroughly analyzed the desserts they picked up for a bus ride down from New York to the suburban Philadelphia puppet studio where they’re rehearsing for the day, and they’ve all concluded it’s the best option. The idea of being eaten by a plant seems a little less palatable, considering the contortions involved in entering the hippopotamus-esque maw of the man-eating Audrey II, which is operated by several puppeteers, and because I’m not sure if Groff is making a serious offer. I learn quickly that he is always offering you things, and those offers are always serious.
The puppet in question represents the largest form of Audrey II, a sassy carnivorous horticultural oddity that convinces Seymour, an awkward flower-shop assistant, to commit murder in the pursuit of fame, fortune, and a suburban life with the original Audrey, a human who works with him. The day I visit, Groff, playing the misfit Seymour (despite good looks that actor Christian Borle, who plays the maniacal dentist, Orin, describes as “scrumptious”), and his castmates are climbing inside Audrey II one by one, figuring out how each of them will die. Wearing a hat from Beyoncé and Jay-Z&rs