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But Menken's true gifts were musical, and his work for numerous performers had developed a skill for melodic pastiche that would serve him well in creating 's score. It certainly helped that Ashman wrote the screenplay, but it was also essential that Oz "got" what had made the show work at the Orpheum Theatre, an intimate 350-seat venue where nothing felt much larger than life.
Mystical beings who comment on the action like a Greek chorus, they walk between the raindrops, always looking fabulous, except when they're disguised as street urchins living on Skid Row, where the story takes place.
And on stage, after Audrey and Seymour disappeared, they came back for a finale and curtain call, whereas Oz's film took off in a whole new direction.
It suddenly became a 1950s monster movie, in which dozens of Audrey IIs went on a rampage tearing apart cities all over America (in exceptional model work, which can now be appreciated on this Blu-ray).
The lesson I take from the Director's Cut is not "don't kill your romantic leads" (although that's certainly a big risk).
The lesson I take is: "don't risk major turns in the story after a song that acts as a big closing number".