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Little Shop of Horrors Star Ellen Greene on Creating Audrey’s Signature Voice

Ellen Greene as Audrey
Ellen Greene as Audrey

“When magic is created, you notice,” Ellen Greene told TheaterMania.com on Friday, September 28, the day before the director’s cut of the musical film Little Shop of Horrors was screened at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center as part of the 50th New York Film Festival.

Little Shop of Horrors was truly a magical experience for the stage and screen veteran, who originated the role of the sweet but ditsy blonde Audrey at the now-defunct WPA Theater in the early 1980s. “To explain what happened for $50 a week in this tiny room with a rinky dink piano, with Howard Ashman and Alan Menken behind it figuring it out. It was such a magical moment. They always wanted to keep it small so we would run a long time.”

It did run for a long time, and it’s still running, in schools and universities, community and stock theaters, across the country and the world. Her Audrey is the standard model for many actresses, because she got to repeat her role in Frank Oz’s film. “I tested for it,” she said. “I was overjoyed when they gave me the role. It was a dream come true. She was my creation.”

In developing Audrey, the actress notes that the role has to be played straight-forward. “You have to play Audrey sweet and innocent,” she said. “It’s not campy, and it’s never making fun.” As far as her signature voice is concerned, “it just came out when I said the first line.”

Following the screening at the Walter Reade, Greene joined Menken at the piano to reclaim her Audrey and sing the signature number “Somewhere That’s Green.”

“Howard used to call me ‘keeper of the flame,’ she said the day before. “He’d be very proud.”

Keep an eye out for TheaterMania’s upcoming feature on the soon-to-be-released director’s cut of Little Shop of Horrors.

And in the meantime, here’s that clip of Ellen Greene singing!