Broadway Shockers 2015: John Cameron Mitchell and Ellen Greene Prove Why They're Icons
As 2015 comes to an end, TheaterMania looks back on some of the most surprising stories of the year.
There have been a lot of great Hedwigs, and there have been a lot of great Audreys. But even the best performers couldn't top the iconic originators of those roles, John Cameron Mitchell and Ellen Greene, who defied all logic of time and aging when earlier this year they returned to the characters that made them stars.
Nothing could tear Mitchell down when he joined the Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Not even a knee injury, which forced him to take a short leave of absence right after he started. But Mitchell, whose improvisatory skills are still unparalleled and voice sounds exactly like it did on the original cast album, used it to his advantage, working it into his script and still delivering a delectably ferocious performance.
Every Hedwig that came before and after found unique takes on the role, but what Mitchell proved was that he simply IS Hedwig. Outrageously funny and absolutely heartbreaking, he left his soul on the line night after night, and the lucky theatergoers who got to see him will never forget it.
While Mitchell played Hedwig on Broadway for several months, Greene reprised her Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors for only three performances at New York City Center, making it the theatrical event of the year. In a similar fashion, it was like stepping into a time capsule: Her voice and mannerisms were exactly the same as they were decades ago, but not in a way that made her work a caricature.
Like Mitchell, Greene proved that she IS Audrey, and no one else can hold a candle to what she does. The fragility that she displayed in "Somewhere That's Green" and the right angles into which she contorted her body during "Suddenly Seymour" rightfully earned her multiple well-deserved standing ovations, as soon as she made her first entrance and just as she took her curtain call. (Also, her chemistry with Jake Gyllenhaal, thirty years her junior, was pretty steamy.)
In the end, both Mitchell and Greene proved that they have discovered the fountain of youth — and those of us lucky enough to have watched their masterful work will never forget the memories as long as we live.