Friday, November 07, 2008

DITMTLOD: Ellen Greene as Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors"

I've actually mentioned I should do a post on this person/ character three times here at LoM. Here, here and here, so I figured I owed her a post.

When I was in sixth grade, my middle school experienced a bomb scare.

There was, of course, no actual bomb. But administrators were required to clear the school in the extremely unlikely occurence that we were victims of a Mad Bomber whose only real demands could have been adding a Slush Puppy machine to the cafeteria.

What I remember most is that the call came late in the day, so the principal had to send us home before we could re-enter the school and grab our bags, etc... So no homework. I learned to love a good bomb threat.

That night we were sort of left staring at one another at the Steans house as not having homework on a school night was a completely alien concept. The Admiral, looked out from behind his copy of the paper long enough to ask if anyone wanted to see a movie. Jason by-passed the chance, and so The Admiral and I headed off to Showplace 6 to catch "Little Shop of Horrors".

I grew up going to a lot of plays, and so, unlike a lot of my counterparts, I did not grow up thinking musicals were weird. And that may have been around when I figured out that musicals are not everybody's cup of tea.

To the point of a "DITMTLOD" post, "Little Shop of Horrors" didn't just feature music I liked, or a huge, talking plant (which I recall The Admiral imitating upon occasion after seeing the movie with a "Feed me, Seymour!" non-sequitor or two), it also featured Broadway star Ellen Greene as Audrey, Seymour's love interest.

Somewhere that's green

At age 12, I was not privvy to some of the jokes of the film, but I do recall getting the extended gag of "somewhere that's green" of Audrey's dream of living inside a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I also didn't really understand the coding of Audrey's slinky dress, bouffant 'do, etc... but that didn't mean I did not appreciate the slinky dresses.

It takes seeing Greene in other roles to understand that (a) Audrey is a complete cartoon manifestation Greene put on, and (b) she's actually a talented actor and doesn't just play the same role over and over a la Tom Cruise or Arnie. She popped up in the recently reviewed "Pump up the Volume", ABC's "Pushing Daisies" and a whole bucket of other stuff, including Leon (aka: The Professional).

The character of Audrey, like Seymour, believes herself to be a loser due to the circumstances which landed her on Skid Row. It's kinda non-specific, but it makes the audience pull for her as someone so down, she doesn't think she deserves any better than a nitrous-abusing sadomasochistic dentist (played awesomely by Steve Martin in the film). She, of course, is terribly sweet and doesn't think she's good enough for our film's hero, Seymour (who also thinks he's not good enough for her. Go figure).

Ellen Greene has a terrific voice, which is terribly divergent from the lilting, post-Marilyn voice with a minor speech impediment she affects as Audrey. You might remember this scene:

Suddenly Seymour!

Anyway, I still think Ellen Greene did a great job with the role, which she'd originated on Broadway and would take to LA and, I think, London. And, she may have set in motion an interest in skinny blonds that continues to this day, but who knows... I am sure, as a tuba playing comic dork, I sorta felt that if a dame like Audrey could secretly dig on Seymour, there was hope for me yet. I just was far less likely to uncover those feelings in song.

Greene (who is not blond) continues to perform in TV, films, cuts records and is generally still very busy. Because she is rarely in anything with robots or ninjas, our paths don't often intersect. However, you can hear more of her on her website (beware the automatically loading audio file). The website hasn't been updated in a long while, but I assume that's because Greene is otherwise occupied.


Michael Corley said...

I will diverge in this matter, as gentleman do, perhaps because blondes have rarely been my forte.

She does have a lovely singing voice.

Carla said...

I love Ms. Greene. She also made an appearance as Sylar's mom on Heroes, season 1. She was brilliant.

Anonymous said...

It's been years since I saw this lovely bit of camp, so I am sure a re-viewing would be freshly amusing to my eyes.