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Little Arrowverse of Horrors: Casting Greg Berlanti’s Movie Musical

by  in Movie News Comment
Little Arrowverse of Horrors: Casting Greg Berlanti’s Movie Musical

Over years, Greg Berlanti has filled his Arrowverse roster with terrific actors, many of whom also happen to be great singers. It’s come in handy, with Grant Gustin, Victor Garber, and Jesse L. Martin all singing from time to time. There’s even a little “Supergirl”/”The Flash” musical crossover in the works. With that in mind, and the announcement that Berlanti will be directing the forthcoming “Little Shop of Horrors” revamp for Warner Brothers, it seems likely that a few CW favorites might have a shot at belting it out on Skid Row.

Well, we decided we’d make his job a bit easier for him and take a look at some of the Arrowverse cast members we’d like to see show off their musical chops on the big screen.

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Ronnette, Crystal and Chiffon – Josie and the Pussycats

Each named for a different ’60s girl-group, Ronnette, Chiffon, and Crystal serve as narrators. They’ve also got some of the most challenging music in the score, requiring drum-tight three-part harmonies and the ability to wail like you wouldn’t believe. So who in the Arrowverse is up to the job?

Well, that’s a tough one. There’s one possibility on the horizon: Ashleigh Murray, who’ll be playing Josie McCoy in “Riverdale” (not the Arrowverse, but maybe they’re on Earth-17 or something).  She can certainly sing. Perhaps it’s worth snapping Murray and her fellow Pussycats, Asha Bromfeld (Melody) and Irie Hayleau (Valerie) and call it a day. They’re a girl-group already.

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Mr. Mushnik – Victor Garber

In the original Off-Broadway production and subsequent revivals and tours, Mr. Mushnik has a bit more to do than he does in Frank Oz’s terrific 1986 film version. There’s no knowing what this particular adaptation might have in store, so we’d better play it safe and pick an older gentleman with a hell of a voice and terrific comic timing.

This one’s obvious: Victor Garber. The Arrowverse has a number of Broadway vets, but Garber’s pedigree is perhaps the most impressive — he’s been nominated for multiple Tony Awards, originated roles in “Sweeney Todd” and “Assassins,” and played Jesus in the film version of “Godspell.” He’s already sung once on this season of “Legends of Tomorrow” (and it was a song from “The Sound of Music”) and Berlanti’s on record saying he’d “be crazy not to” use Garber in the upcoming musical crossover episode.

So, it’s simple. Cast Garber, put the songs back in, and watch the magic happen.

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The Patient – Grant Gustin

This a role that doesn’t come up in the stage musical, but in the previous two film versions, it’s been filled by two heavy hitters: Jack Nicholson (in the 1960 non-musical version) and Bill Murray (in Oz’s 1986 version). Here, we think he should call on one of the Arrowverse’s most reliable talents: Grant Gustin.

Just imagine Gustin getting a (spoilers) long, slow root canal without his speedster metabolism to heal him. Come on, that’s hilarious.

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Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. – John Barrowman

Steve Martin’s a tough act to follow, but there’s one man in the Arrowverse more than up to the challenge: John Barrowman. Like Garber, Barrowman’s a Broadway vet; he’s also released a number of albums on his own. But beyond the singing, Barrowman’s comic chops — not always given much attention on “Arrow” — make him the perfect fit for the sadistic villain. This is a character who needs to be wildly, fiendishly funny, but he’s also a domestic abuser and an all-around bad guy who lives to inflict pain and suffering on those around him.

Malcolm Merlyn has always seemed like a bit of a psychopath, and when you combine that menace with Barrowman’s considerable charms — come on, have you seen him on “Doctor Who”? — you’ve got the perfect formula. He’s a dentist, and a success! We’re more than ready to say ‘ahhh.’

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Audrey – Chyler Leigh

This is another case of needing someone with serious pipes. The obvious choice would be Supergirl herself, but while Melissa Benoist is a great singer and actress, Audrey needs a little world-weariness and sadness about her, and if possible, a bit of an edge. Most of the women in the Arrowverse are downright bubbly — your Karas, for Felicitys, your Caitlins, your Irises — or kind of menacing — Amaya, Sara, Laurel, Thea, Nyssa, the list goes on. However, over on Earth-38, we’ve got the perfect candidate: Agent Alex Danvers.

Chyler Leigh is one of the most reliable performers in the Arrowverse, and she gave one of the strongest performances in the admittedly mixed-bag that was the musical episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Does she have the vocal chops of some of her co-stars? It’s tough to tell, though she certainly has a lovely voice. Her performance of Anna Nalick’s “Breathe” makes it clear that she’s an ideal choice to sing the tender “Somewhere That’s Green,” and if she’s not quite ready to blow the walls down on “Suddenly Seymour” just yet, a couple of months with a good vocal coach could absolutely get her there. Cast the right person, get her the right training, and this casting choice could be a real winner.

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Seymour – Carlos Valdes or Jeremy Jordan

Here’s a tricky one. There’s no shortage of cute, kind of awkward young men who can sing in the Arrowverse, but there are two Broadway vets with considerable vocal talent and loads of charm. How does one decide? We’re splitting the difference and leaving it up to Berlanti to make this tough call.

First up: Jeremy Jordan, who is hands-down the best singer on this list. It’s not the flashiest thing to trumpet, but here’s the deal with “Supergirl’s” Winn. He’s got out of this world breath control, he’s an incredibly expressive musician who knows how to use his remarkable instrument to tell the story, and he never sounds like he’s showing off, even though he has every right to show off. He’s a highlight of “Supergirl,” something that was even true in the first season, when they clearly had no idea what to do with him, and he’s already proven he can headline a movie musical — and frankly that musical, “The Last Five Years,” has music that’s much more challenging than Alan Menken’s terrific score for “Little Shop” (itself no walk in park, technically speaking). It’s a no-brainer, right? Put him in some big glasses, give him a pocket-protector, and call it good.

Except, if we’re being honest, there’s one Seymour we’d be more excited to see. Jordan’s the obvious choice, but Carlos Valdes has got a set of pipes himself. Valdes is arguably the MVP of “The Flash,” both the most reliable source of comic relief and someone who can always nail the heavy stuff, no matter how absurd. He’s charming in the same way that Jordan is, and he’s got a rock feel to his voice that would make for an interesting “Suddenly Seymour,” the show’s legendary duet (you’ve probably heard it karaoke once or twice). More importantly, his energy isn’t as polished as Jordan’s, and his charm feels a bit more off-kilter (does anyone really believe that Winn has a hard time landing a date?)

The Jeremy Jordan “Little Shop” would be great, to be sure, but Valdes is no slouch vocally — seriously — and he’s the one we’d most like to see. Call it a draw, but while our heads might say Winn, our hearts, as always, say Cisco.

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Audrey II – Jesse L. Martin

The odd thing about “Little Shop of Horrors” is that the best role is a puppet with the voice of an angel. Well, maybe the voice of a devil. It’s impossible to talk about Audrey II (or Audrey Jr., depending on whether you’re talking about the film or stage musical) without spoiling things, so, spoilers.

Audrey II, the man-eating plant that serves as the musical’s biggest plot point and primary antagonist, sings like a dream. In the 1986 film, Audrey II was voiced by Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of the Four Tops. If there’s one slam dunk on this list, this is the one: Greg Berlanti should absolutely cast Jesse L. Martin, and he should probably do it today.

Before he was that guy from “Law & Order,” Martin first snagged national attention as Tom Collins in “Rent,” singing what’s arguably the most moving song from the score (and no, it’s not “Seasons of Love”). His rich voice captured joy and grief in equal measure, and while his pursuits have been largely non-musical since then, he’s still one of the best singers in the Arrowverse (and in the world, pretty much). He’s not just the best choice for Audrey II from Berlanti’s existing casts, he’s the best choice, period. There’s no one we’d rather hear sing “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space,” and if Berlanti looks elsewhere, it’ll be a crime. Not on the level of murdering people and feeding them to your alien plant, but a crime nonetheless.

Everyone else

We hope Berlanti stays loyal to his stable of performers, because we’d love to see Benoist, Laura Benanti, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanagn, Wentworth Miller, Caity Lotz and other Arrowverse regulars in Skid Row. “Little Shop of Horrors” has plenty of opportunities for cameos, so surely we can find a way for Calista Flockhart to play a dental technician.

Starring Melissa Benoist as the Girl of Steel, “Supergirl” airs Mondays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The network is also home to Grant Gustin as the Scarlet Speedster in “The Flash,” airing Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT, Stephen Amell as the Emerald Archer in “Arrow,” airing Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT and Arthur Darvill, Brandon Routh and Caity Lotz in “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” airing Thursdays at 8 pm ET/PT.

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