Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015 Interview with Dick Cavett

Author/actor/TV talk show host Dick Cavett will star at Theatre 40 and for one night at the Saban Theatre in the controversial play Hellman v. McCarthy beginning February 6. Cavett is best known for his TV talk shows from the 70s to present time on CBS, ABC, PBS, USA Network and currently on TCM hosting reruns of his classic 70s interviews. He is known for his laid-back conversational style with such celebrities as Groucho Marx, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Jack Benny and Mel Brooks among many others. He is a three-time Emmy Award winner. He also currently writes a blog published by the New York Times.

In our chat he discusses - with inimitable wit - the play and its background, playing himself in it, and his new book, entitled Dick Cavett: Brief Encounters. 

Just a bit of background: in January 1980 while Cavett was interviewing author Mary McCarthy on PBS, at the sound of Lillian Hellman's name, she is quoted as responding: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'.

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Unfortunately, I never saw your original broadcast with guest Mary McCarthy in January of 1980. Was that your highest-rated interview at that time?

I doubt that it was the highest rated, because nobody had any idea what was going to happen, including me.

Did Lillian Hellman call in and request a rebuttal or did she just sue for libel?

The phone rang the next morning and I heard (in Hellman's characteristic scratchy voice) "Why the hell didn't you defend me?" from her mouth which was only exceeded in its dirtiness by Richard M. Nixon.

You had interviewed her before, correct?

A couple of times.

When did Brian Richard Mori write the play Hellman v. McCarthy?

I'm not sure when he worked on it; it suddenly just appeared in my life, out of the blue, and I remember thinking "How do you make a play out of this?" Well, he certainly did. You are riveted all the way through it. It's like following a good, well-plotted drama or mystery. Nobody falls asleep during this play.

Why do you think it took over thirty years to dramatize?

Well, I don't know, now that he's done such an excellent play, you think 'what a great idea, why didn't ten people do it?' And maybe people tried, but this one certainly is the successful version.

Explain the conflict with Hellman.

You mean that old bag who started this psychotic lawsuit with no justification whatsoever?! They had to prove that she was not a public figure, because you can say anything you want about public figures. At the same time she was appearing in that Blackglama fur ad, which did not mention the name of any of the women in them...Carol Burnett, Beverly Sills...so therefore she was hired because she was a public figure but in her vengeful nasty way she... and somehow her lawyer got away with denying that. But she's half the drama; the two women are equally represented throughout the play.

Did you do the play on the road before New York last year?

No, it was done at a little theatre called the Abingdon off-Broadway; it has a good reputation as an off-Broadway theatre. It only played a limited run, so we ran for three weeks in New York. Splashed all over the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times, I think after the second performance by Mr. Isherwood of the Times. Next day, it sold out.

And you got superlative reviews?

Yeah, yeah, nobody hated it.

Nora Ephron also wrote a play about Hellman and McCarthy called Imaginary Friends. Were you included in that?

It does include me and my show. They had 9 ft high, 4 ft wide television screens onstage. In a crucial scene Mary thinks she's (Hellman) a dishonest writer, and says her infamous line with 'and' and 'the', and it was interesting to see myself not only that tall (we laugh) but then cutting to what was Mary only it wasn't Mary it was Cherry Jones. And they shot it so it matched as if they were showing Mary on my show. And she (Jones) was so good, I really thought she was Mary.

Marcia Rodd played Mary in Hellman v. McCarthy in New York, right?

Yes, and she decided to give it another shot here, and I'm glad she did.

Who is playing Hellman here at Theatre 40?

Flora Plumb, as they used to say, is essaying the part and Marcia, Mary. A wonderful  young actor from New York named Roan Myer plays the only sympathetic character in the whole play, the long-suffering male nurse to Lillian... the irascible, maddening, sick, chain-smoking, booze-drinking, foulmouth talking Lillian Hellman.

It sounds like you didn't like her (intoning humor).

It's hard to like someone who sues you for a million dollars. I liked her fine before. I had dinner at her apartment a couple of times. Other people at the table would be people like the New York Times book critic and Mike Nichols. Mike actually was going to come (to the play). He sent me an e-mail saying "Almost came down to see you, but the thought of seeing Lillian again in any form might be too much."

(laughing) What other actors are in the play here?

Two actors familiar to you audiences  here are Martin Thompson and John Combs who play the two lawyers.

You've been rehearsing at Theatre 40?

They've been rehearsing before I got here, and we're still rehearsing. Howard Storm is excellently directing the play.

Do you expect LA audiences to be as intelligent as New York audiences?

As intelligent as New York audiences?

Well, you know how New Yorkers are always putting down LA for not being a theatre town?

You mean the people who refer to this as LaLa Land. (he laughs) I've never seen a major drop in intelligence in California. Maybe they're only showing me the right people.  I lived here, so to speak, for six months, working for Jerry Lewis, back in the days of the ABC two-hour Jerry Lewis Show with Mort Sahl and everybody. I had a little apartment out in Bel Air, almost to the freeway.

Did you write for him?

I did.

That had to be interesting, that whole gig.

It was. (he laughs)  There's a long book and play in that.

How is it to play yourself onstage?

I try not to think about it.

Did playwright Mori take your actual words from the broadcast?

Some of the stuff is right from it. Some of it is approximate from things that we know happened. And there's a brilliant scene by him on the two ladies meeting one last time after the whole thing is blown up. This never happened. They didn't see each other again. What he has imaginatively... and I point out, we don't know that the ladies ever met really like this, but wasn't that a swell scene and it probably would have been. So, we don't fool the audience into thinking that...

Sounds like fun. I saw you do Otherwise Engaged on Broadway many years ago. I was very delighted with what you did with that. Did you enjoy doing that play?

I couldn't wait for the sun to start going down so I could get to the theatre.

Was it because you were a perfect fit for the character, do you think?

 I've never tried to figure out why; it was just so satisfying to do a well-written play. Strangely enough, I had every other line; virtually, I never was off-stage. I guess that's good for the ego, but sort of tough if you want to have a drink, as Richard Burton did after every scene. I never tried that. And I took over for Tom Courtenay. That was intimidating. I had to assume that most people hadn't seen both of us.

Well, I did see both of you, and I thought you did a wonderful job.

I hated leaving it. And I had to, because the PBS show started. I've tried to imagine that maybe I could have done both a little longer, but I don't know. It never pays to look back.


I just got your book over the weekend and I really enjoyed certain chapters like Bittersweet Christmas Story. That one struck a chord. When you're a kid, and your relatives suddenly get into a spat over something that should please them, you wonder if some deep unhappiness has been festering in them for a long time. Are there other personal encounters like this one?

Not like that one. What you singled out others have called grim reading. A little bitter drama that took place around a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.

My mother put my father's dinner down in front of him one night - it was spaghetti and it wasn't Christmas Eve, but...my father looked at it and suddenly picked up the plate and threw it against the wall. It came out of nowhere, and they started to argue.

Those things happen. In what movie is spaghetti thrown against the wall?

(We both answer simultaneously) The Odd Couple.
Those blowups in long term marriages are painful. You don't know mummy and daddy and all they've done.

Anyway, you wrote it very well and it truly moved me. I also loved the chapters about Mel Brooks and Jack Benny.

Did you read the one about Stan Laurel?

Not yet.

Actually I wrote a second one for the Times. Hundreds of people loved that. I still find it easier to believe by far that I have met Brando and Orson Welles and Katharine Hepburn, Robert Mitchum and all those people than the man that I met who helped the fat man struggle with the crated piano up a hundred and thirty-three steps in the Oscar-winning short The Music Box, which I can watch once a year easily. Somebody out here drove me to the steps - Stan told me where the steps were - and I visited them the last time I was here. They don't look anything like in the movie, because there were virtually no houses. Now they've filled in. There's a plaque there.

I can't wait to read about that. The other chapter that I loved was about comedy and you talked about setting up a joke for Benny.

I don't know if that clip is on youtube or not. It's great. I know there was a joke; Benny knows there was a joke on the subject of insurance. You can see him edging toward it. Then he says something like "Oh, I could do a whole routine on that." I give him another hint and you see it dawn. And he says, "I'll tell you the insurance I have. When I go, they go." Later, he shook my hand and said "Thanks for the cue."(he laughs)

You were such a great interviewer. You were tuned into him and were able to feed him.

When that works, it's nice.

You not only did a terrific interview with the one and only Katharine Hepburn, you did one on PBS with the comedian in a dress, female illusionist Charles Pierce. Do you remember him?

Sure.

 What do you remember about both of those shows?

I had never really seen his work, and heard about him from everybody it seems in the theatre.
My wife (Carrie Nye) was a great fan of his, but I hadn't seen his work. I was just dazzled right there. It was as if a man came in and walked up the wall or something. That's how good he was. I have to get that out and look at it again.

What about Miss Hepburn?

Of course, the Hepburn one was so unexpectedly long, that we got two 90-minute shows out of it. And there are twenty-five left over that have never been seen.

I remember at one point, she got up and stormed out, saying something like "Are we through?

That was a faux exit, not foe. And she came back and we did more.

It was great.

How do you get rid of her? (we laugh)

Any final comments about the play Hellman v. McCarthy before we rap?

You can safely advise people that they will watch it with rapt attention. It has drama, semi verbal violence, not physical...well, there's a moment, you could call that when Lillian belts her faithful male nurse. It's got everything but nudity and onstage sex. But we're trying to figure out how to get that in.

(we laugh)

Dick, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure talking to you and I look forward to seeing the play in as couple of weeks.

Thank you for making this painless. My wife reminds me that it goes from February 6 - 28 at Theatre 40 and one glorious night March 1 at the Saban Theatre, which is home for me because I did that spectacular special with Mel Brooks there a few years ago.

Well, best of luck and break a leg!

Thank you about the leg. You know the Germans say Hals und Beinbruch, meaning break neck and leg, Germans being a little more violent.
(we laugh)

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What a treat to talk to this icon! I haven't laughed so hard in quite a while. See him live onstage in Hellman v. McCarthy at Theatre 40 February 6-28 and then for one night March 1 at the Saban.

http://www.theatre40.org/home

http://www.sabantheatre.org/


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 Interview with Engelbert Humperdinck

interview here - early to mid February!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Interview with Actress Tanna Frederick

Versatile actress Tanna Frederick, who played the quintessential Lizzie in The Rainmaker a couple of seasons back, is now performing in another Henry Jaglom production, his world premiere play The Train to Zakopane again at Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica. In our chat she talks about the challenges of playing Katia and other projects for stage and film.


What was it like preparing to play Katia?  Did you do a lot of research on the time period and Poland?


Preparing to play an anti-semite was like no other role I’ve ever prepared for. Preparing to play an anti-anything - as I recently did a double bill of both Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman and Train to Zakopane on the 17th as a benefit for the Museum of Tolerance, playing a racist white woman (ironically also on a train) in 1964 - was work I never anticipated would be so heart or stomach wrenching. It involved a lot of nausea, ulcers, and emotional breakdowns during rehearsals. Luckily I had wonderfully patient and communicative co-stars (Siaka Massaquoi in Dutchman and Mike Falkow in Train) who were there for me emotionally and physically, willing to talk though the hateful words and dialogue and reassure me when I needed it. Mike Falkow has been an amazing co-star: patient, kind, brilliant - a modern day Leslie Howard. Also Gary Imhoff and Levy Lee Simon were incredible directors to guide me in the directions the material required.

You really go all the way with your emotional involvement in a role. How has it taken its toll on you? 

Tums, tums, and more tums.

Why do you think audiences love to see plays and films about the time period from 1928 to 1945? What is the fascination?  

I don’t think it is as much about the time period right now as it is about the material remaining timeless - and I don’t mean that in a positive way. There is so much underlying, quiet hatred existing; rearing it’s head in massive acts of violence and atrocities on the international scene right now.  I think that this play appeals to people because people need to process the hatred bubbling up right now not just in a cerebral sense but in a way that allows their emotional life to live through these intense acts of violence. Henry’s Train gives them a venue to laugh, to cry, to be angry, but all through the guise of a love story. Both characters have reason to hate, and their reasoning comes as a massive love that they held for someone. Thus neither character, and Henry does a lovely job of playing in this ‘grey zone’, is neither the protagonist or antagonist.  And hopefully, by the end of the show, as I’ve seen from audiences and as I continue to hope to see, people want these two characters to reconcile their past, to overcome the hate, and love. I believe the antidote to hatred is understanding, communication, and breaking patterns. Train covers those, the difficulty of confronting those steps, but nonetheless it is a long and difficult journey for the actors, who I applaud heavily, to tell this story and keep the audiences with us and with Henry’s true story of his father.  

Was this Henry's most difficult play to write? Is he planning on filming it? It is so cinematic!

Yes, he is planning on filming it. We’re trying to figure out the best way to tackle that right now. As far as I saw during the writing process, he and Ron Vignone pushed the material out so quickly it almost seemed his easiest to write. He has had this story inside of him about his father and what his father, in hushed tones, would tell him from time - his father referencing it as being the ’only thing he was ashamed of’ in his life. Henry is a brilliant playwright. It was so exciting to see him tackle something with historical and real life magnitude behind it. He usually is drawn to women’s dilemmas and loves show business stories, and many of the audience has been quite shocked and delighted that Henry covered such material, especially during this political landscape and time.  

Is this your favorite role? How would you compare it to Lizzie in The Rainmaker?

I love every role I play.  I find something different and stretch my sensibilities with every character. I really can’t say I have a favorite character, but this is definitely one of the most important characters and important stories I have done. Lizzie was quite bright and a lot less innocent, yet much more jaded. She didn’t carry much hope for change, and Starbuck had to shake her out of that. Katia falls in love and lets her guard down. She is very much on one hand like a hurt, innocent child, stuck on a historical event that imprinted her whole adult life. Yet she is strong, determined, and hard working, as well as caring, as Lizzie was.  Katia just never confronted or dealt with the one blow that blew her life apart, and has tucked it so far down in her being that it has festered and metastasized, whereas Lizzie was dealing with the reality, constant rejection and a refusal to change.  

Talk a little about the work you've done to bring original theatre and film to your home state of Iowa.

In 2007, Richard Schinnow and I started the Iowa Independent Film Festival. It was my dream to showcase all of the great talent that comes out of Iowa. Through that idea, I founded Project Cornlight. IT is aimed at developing Iowa-based films and expand the performing arts industries in Iowa. 

What other projects are forthcoming for you in 2015?

2015 is going to be a great year. I am excited for the release of Henry Jaglom’s film Ovation. It is all about the drama that happens behind the stage of a theater production.  Another release is a project that I am very passionate about and hold dear to my heart, Garner, IA. It’s a great story about family, reuniting, and restarts. We shot it in Garner, IA. Jane Spenser's South of Hope Street is currently in pre-production. We will be shooting that in Switzerland.

This is one busy and committed actress. Catch her as Katia in Train to Zakopane through March at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica! Her brilliant performance will knock your socks off.
(photo credit: Odessy Barbu)
http://www.edgemarcenter.org/

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Interview - Emrhys Cooper Embarks On New Projects

In the new TV series Person of Interest on December 16, actor Emrhys Cooper made quite a splash. (picture above) Now it's time to talk about 2015 and what it holds in store for this versatile actor/performer.

interview - Spring!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Interview with Chris Verdugo and Joe Nadeau of GMCLA

Chris Verdugo

Executive director Chris Verdugo and artistic director/conductor Joe Nadeau of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) are busy these days getting ready for the big holiday concert to take place this weekend Saturday December 13 at 3 pm and 8 pm and Sunday December 14 at 3 pm at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.

What is new about this year's concert in comparison to those of past years?

GMCLA's Holiday Spectacular: A Gleeful Celebration is drawn from two main inspirations:  The TV Show GLEE  (which is currently in it's final season) and music that has been performed by men's glee clubs over the years.  When looking at the potential list of songs for this concert there were hundreds of selections to choose from.  From this extensive list we created a concert that is fun, artistic, challenging, exciting, entertaining, and spectacular. This year there are more costumes and more flesh than in year’s past and possibly the funniest second act we’ve ever had in a Holiday Show. 

Is there a happy balance between upbeat popular music and traditional carols?

Very much! Each year GMCLA pulls out all the stops for our Holiday Spectacular - and our audience expect nothing less.  For A Gleeful Celebration we will be singing traditional holiday favorites, new and exotic selections from around the world, pop hits, delightful surprises, hilarious spoofs with a fabulous cast of characters.  

Tell me more specifically about the comedy in the show.

We end the first half of the concert with a song called "Heavy Christmas".  This is a big medley of famous "heavy" hits from classical music with a gay holiday twist.  This one song will include appearances from Santa and his (ahem, sexy) reindeer,  elves, and toy soldiers.  The second half features a show-stopping all-male version of the Nativity - with Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, shepherds, wise men, and a heavenly host of angels to bring it all home. 

What is planned for 2015? Any special guest stars on tap in the year ahead?

Our Holiday Spectacular is just the first performance in GMCLA's 36th Season. In February, GMCLA will collaborate with the amazing string quartet - Well Strung to present a special concert we are calling Heartstrings. This concert will showcase the LA premiere of a new commissioned work called "Tyler's Suite", showcasing the life and legacy of Tyler Clementi.  We also have GMCLA Goes Down Under in March and Vegas Baby in June and are currently in negotiations with some exciting guest artists.  

How has the chorus been doing over the past year in its attempt to bring different members of the community closer together? 

Over the past several years, we’ve seen an influx of younger members auditioning and making it into the chorus. This wonderful occurrence has created a truly intergenerational membership within the chorus that is mirrored in the make up of our audiences.  Never before have we had so many young people attending our season shows. And through the work of our it gets better tour, we are traveling to cities across the country, engaging in conversations about bullying while bridging the gaps that exist in those communities so they can work toward the shared goal of keeping their youth safe, alive and prospering.  

The chorus is in a great place and we continue to move upward with the new concerts this February and an expansion of our it gets better tour through California.  We’re truly changing hearts and minds in all corners of the world.  
Dr. Joseph Nadeau
For tickets go to:

  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Interview with Charles Edwards

Actor Charles Edwards, known for his roles in Batman Returns and Downton Abbey, will appear in Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury at the Ahmanson opening December 14. In our conversation he talks about the play, working with Miss Lansbury and other highlights of his career so far.



I read that one of your first appearances on stage was in Blithe Spirit. What part did you play then?

I played the role I’m playing now - Charles. It was my first theatre job and I was way too young for the part but it was at a beautiful rep theatre in Yorkshire, the Harrogate Theatre, that used to hire people straight out of drama school to gain experience. We were really cheap to hire, too, which perhaps had some bearing on it.

How does it feel to return to the play? 

It’s about 20 years since I first played the role so I don’t really have much recollection of it. I remember being terrified because it’s a large role and I felt very responsible. That hasn’t altered much.

Have you been with this production since Broadway or have you recently stepped in?

The Broadway production was sort of remounted and remodelled for London, but Angela and Simon Jones were the only two cast members who remained. I joined in London where we played earlier this year, and now for this new production we have an amalgam of the two previous ones, with members of both the Broadway and London casts involved, but with a brand new Ruth, Charlotte Parry. The joining together of the various strands has created a unique fresh energy that is very exciting to be part of. 

What is it like to tread the boards every evening with Dame Angela Lansbury? Talk a bit about her as an actress and costar.

Talking of energy. She totally owns the role and has made it completely her own; she says it’s the best role she’s ever had. We’ve got her at her absolute prime. She’s played it many times now and won a Tony for it. What I love about seeing her play the role is that her Englishness comes absolutely to the fore, which perhaps for people more used to seeing her in American theatre and TV will be a fresh experience. She uses a voice for Madame Arcati that is the English of her childhood, the kind of accent that you only ever hear in old black-and-white movies. It’s a beautifully observed performance, full of rich detail and delicately executed comedy. A real treat to watch, you’ve got to see her.


Which Shakespearean role is your favorite? Why?

I had a terrific time with Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. Many people who’ve worked at the Globe say the same thing which has sort of become clich├ęd so forgive me, but the plays that were written for that theatre make total sense in performance there. A role like Benedick, where you are literally conversing with the crowd, is a lot of fun. The Globe is a wonderful place to be. Even when it rains.

Tell me about The 39 Steps. You premiered in it in London and then in the US, correct? What an achievement for an actor to play all of these roles! It is  so physically demanding as well as emotional. How do you feel about this role and the play?

I’m very proud of The 39 Steps. I played Richard Hannay first at the brilliant Tricycle Theatre in London, then into the West End, then to the Huntington in Boston, then for Roundabout at the American Airlines, and then to the Cort. It’s still on in London at the Criterion. My giant face still looms over Piccadilly Circus. It’s a production that required and continues to require a lot of work and care from everyone involved, from its inception to current performance. Anyone in it will tell you it’s exhausting, but very satisfying when it’s done right. I did 2 years in all.

Tell me about Downton Abbey and your role in it. How do you account for its tremendous success in the US?

The Downton Effect. I don’t think anyone quite knows its secret, least of all Julian Fellowes who has often said so. I suspect at its core it’s something to do with the two faces of society - the social veneer above, coupled with the grime and the cogs below that keep the veneer intact. People like to peek behind green baize doors. I play Michael Gregson, Lady Edith’s lover who is currently in Germany, trying to get a divorce from his lunatic wife so he can marry Edith.

Do you have a dream role? By that I mean one that you are yearning to essay. Why this particular one?

When I was younger I always found myself being much more interested in roles that would come later in life. Young lovers and confident heroes have never held much appeal and as a result I was never very good at them. Flawed people whom life has chipped away at are more satisfying to play. George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is something I would love to do one day because the role exemplifies those elements.

What do you think makes Noel Coward plays as timeless as they are? Talk about his wit and how your character in Blithe Spirit contributes to the humor.

The humor in Blithe Spirit is maybe a little different to what you’d imagine from a Coward play, although that’s not to imply that he only ever churned out a particular brand of humor. His style and wit are of course intact as they always are, but this play is very much a farce as well as being a pretty tart observation on sexual satisfaction versus solidity and comfort in a relationship, and whether a balance of the two is ever possible. That’s a question that has never gone away, and never will.


Don't miss Charles Edwards in Blithe Spirit, which begins previews Tuesday December 9 with official opening set for Sunday December 14!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

2004 Interview with Ellen Greene

Ellen Greene has just released Songs for a Winter's Night, her second solo album, featuring mostly Christmas music. It has taken her 10 years since her first solo album In His Eyes.
This is a wonderful collection from this premiere artiste who can still sing at the top of her craft.
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From 2004:

A singer's singer Ellen Greene was about to launch her brilliant new album In His Eyes in 2004 when the following interview took place for reviewplays.com

Why has it taken you so long to record a solo album?

I did an album as a youngster when I was 21. We worked on ii for a bout a year and a half. It was beautiful. On it was "Never Never Land", "Nights in White Satin", "This Amazing Thing"...it was for Atlantic...and when it was almost finished, I was told that it was not going to be released. I was so in denial, how much that hurt, because I loved recording it. Every time I would record for a show...I always loved recording and making movies, because you're only with artists. Not that I don't love stage and all that, but when you're just around artists, it's all about the creation. There's no response, there's no reward; the reward is the creating part. It's a collaborative thing.
After what happened, for many years I didn't own up to how badly I wanted to record. I've never thought of myself as a singer, but an actress.

You're a terrific one and that's what makes your singing come alive!

Thank you. There are also many other reasons I stopped singing. At Peter Allen's memorial, my friend Don Palladino was out in the audience, and I was singing "Love Don't Need a Reason", and I looked at him and I just knew he was next, and both of us knew. My heart just went into my throat, and I said, "I cannot do one more memorial for someone I love, and I don't want to sing again. "I'll sing for a show, but singing...me, portraying myself, I don't lie...and my heart was broken. When I started singing again with Christian (Klikovits), I realized how much I missed doing it, and he so admired my work, he made me realize that I've always wanted to do an album and was in denial about it. There are so many singers that are better technicians than I, but...

You put your soul into it. And on In His Eyes your voice manages to capture so many different stylings, it's amaItaliczing!

They're really great songs, aren't they? I love the writers I've chosen. They, in my mind, do the songs best. I hope that I add to the renditions. I let you see their words in another way. I'm so very proud of this album.

As well you should be. Let's go back a bit. Now that Little Shop of Horrors is a great big stage hit all over again, and Audrey is in demand, does that part of your life come back to haunt you? How fond of her are you?

I love Howard Ashman. I miss him desperately. That was 5 years of my life. If someone could love a character I've done...means I loved it first. I loved her. She was a sweet brunette on the page. It was one of those times...it happened in my life a few times like In His Eyes and Side Man, the play I just finished at the Malibu Stage...I get on a creative roll and I create something that's beyond me. Certain things happen; it clicks. For Audrey: the voice, the look, the clothes, the hair, the makeup...round enough to fall off the tree like a peach...Howard and I wrote some lines for her; we were very, very close. I knew things instinctually. I'm proud of her. I made her from the ground up. I thought she should be created in the land of Little Shop. Anything that was a little campy got taken out of the script. When I went to say the lines, the voice just came out of me naturally. I felt that she would be dressed-up. What she thought was in good taste, obviously was a little off. I wanted her in high heels, because I wanted her teetering. Just when you got to laugh, she makes you cry. Just when you're about to cry, she makes you laugh. I thought the power of her insides should come out when she sang. That's her inner life, and her outer life...I bought a wig, we cut it into a bob with a duck back. I remember Carol Channing coming to one of the shows and wanting my wig. When we auditioned for replacements, I said, "This character doesn't have to be a blonde. She doesn't have to be dressed like this." I'm proud that everyone loves my take on it, but to me, the key to Audrey is her innocence, her sweetness and how she views people.

Getting back to the new CD, one of my favorite songs is T. Amos' "Winter"!

Isn't it beautiful and aren't you touched? I remember the first time Christian said he wanted to have a tribal feel in that moment where it's the opening up realization that life is going by, and if you don't do something about your dreams and make them a reality and start to love who you are as yourself, then you will not be able to embrace any of those dreams. Who you are is the immense magic. It's a very hard thing for all of us to accept ourselves at all the different stages - the horrible side, the wonderful side, the adorable side - and who you are as a grownup. And then to bring what you learned as a child to that grownup: that is the magic of creativity. That song says so much to me.
to purchase In His Eyes, visit
www.ellengreene.com
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Visit CD baby to buy digital or CD copies of Songs for a Winter's Night.
www.cdbaby.com