For the first time in the years of my play reading dinners, a gung-ho band of friends and I took on a musical this month, Little Shop of Horrors. I burned the cd and downloaded and emailed copies of the script in preparation. It was all quite hilarious--besides playing my role of Seymour, the hapless nerdy hero, I also had the remote for the cd player (yes, I still have one of those) close at hand to play and pause as we sang over the recording. We had only two scripts and there were just four of us taking over the parts when we probably needed at least three more, but we marched on just the same.
If you are unfamiliar with the 50's pastiche musical that opened in the early 80's Off-Broadway, the movie version with Rick Moranis or the black-and-white Roger Corman film with Jack Nicholson in his first movie role, here's the basic plot--down-on-his-luck Seymour works in Mushnik's flower shop on Skid Row and fortune intervenes when he discovers a remarkable Venus Fly Trap-type plant which brings him fame and fortune. Things start to go horribly awry when Seymour discovers the murderous plant thrives on blood and eventually begins talking to him, while growing to epic proportions.
I created a creepy plant of my own as the setting for the dinner table, using a large cabbage and wilted red lettuce leaves situated on a footed cake stand. I also created extending "vines" by weaving watercress along the table. Sheet music from the show created a runner upon which everything sat.
Fiddlehead fern napkins were a fine touch.
Taking a cue from the botanical bent of the show, I served dolmas, rice-filled grape leaves as an appetizer and an appropriately green, chilled soup with peas and asparagus in an old cabbage-shaped tureen with withered sorrel wrapped around the base. Everybody went wild for my soup!
Baby (who played Mr. Mushnik to great effect) made stuffed vegetarian cabbage with zucchini bread for a surprising, delicious entree during intermission. We nibbled on some Green & Black's dark chocolate bars infused with peppermint oil for a dessert snack afterwards.
1 large of cabbage
1 lb ground veal
1 lb ground beef
1/2 loaf zucchini bread, crumbled
3 carrots, grated
1 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice Powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed black pepper
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 loaf zucchini bread, crumbled
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp Chinese Five-Spice Powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Remove outer leaves and core the cabbage. Put in boiling water for 45 minutes, until leaves are easily removed.
While cabbage is boiling, make the sauce: saute onion until translucent, add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
Cook down tomatoes with two cups of water, simmering for about 15
minutes. Add salt, pepper, Chinese Five-Spice Powder. Add zucchini bread
and stir into sauce until mixed, add honey and lemon juice and simmer
over low heat for 15 minutes.
Take cabbage out of water and let cool for 20 minutes.
While cabbage is cooling, heat oven to 350 degrees and make the filling by mixing all the other ingredients together with hands. Put about two tablespoons of filling at the base of each leaf when ready. Roll tightly, bringing in sides as you go. Repeat, placing each little bundle tightly in a Pyrex baking dish. Top with sauce, cover and put in oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
Soundtrack: The Shangri-Las, Greatest Hits; The Supremes, Greatest Hits; and of course, our glorious voices united in an evening of song!
After weathering a soul-shredding career as a theatrical agent that lasted entirely too long, Mr. Sherwood left his stable of actors from the stage and screen and went on to pursue his literary aspirations. He is currently the dining editor for Next magazine (nextmagazine.com) where he writes a weekly restaurant review column which also features Manhattan's best food and drink recipes from the finest chef's and bartenders on the island. In 2010 he was published in Foodista’s Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. He toiled as web editor for industry leader Interior Design magazine for several years and has also written for New York magazine, Travel & Leisure and Woman’s Day.
A proud graduate of the University of New Hampshire, one of the nation’s top drinking schools, Mr. Sherwood also studied voice and theater abroad at Regent’s College, in London’s historic Regent’s Park, and at the Royal Academy of Music. He spent a year at Hunter College in Manhattan.
Mr. Sherwood recently published his first novel, the pale of memory, available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and iUniverse.com. He is in the midst of writing a second.
Twitter/tweet/twat him @kaleidabox