Ellen Greene: Vivian
Date Of Birth: February, 22nd City: Brooklyn, New York
For over 30 years, Ellen Greene has been a highly regarded and critically acclaimed actress, singer and performer in theater, motion pictures and television. She first made a name for herself as a nightclub chanteuse in such Manhattan clubs as The Brothers & Sisters, Grand Finale and Reno Sweeney.
While performing one night to standing ovations at Reno Sweeney, Greene received a telegram on stage from Peter Allen which read: “I hear you’re making my cheap music sound good.” This marked the beginning of a long and true friendship with Allen. Reno Sweeney bloomed as a New York nightspot, along with Greene’s career.
This brought her to her first starring role in Robert Stigwood’s “Rachel Lily Rosenbloom (And Don’t You Ever Forget It!”) at the age of 21, meshing her acting career with her singing. During her engagement at Reno’s, she was cast in the starring role of Chrissy in David Rabe’s “In the Boom Boom Room.” Joe Papp awarded her the role and took her under his wing. Under his tutelage at The New York Shakespeare Festival, her acting career took off. The brilliant reviews she received for her role as Chrissy led director Paul Mazursky to cast her opposite Lenny Baker and Shelley Winters in “Next Stop, Greenwich Village,” her first feature film.
That led to the Shakespeare Festival’s production of “The Threepenny Opera,” where Greene starred opposite Raul Julia at the Vivian Beaumont in Lincoln Center. She was compared to Martha Graham and received a Tony nomination for her soulful rendition of “Pirate Jenny” in the role originated by Lotte Lenya.
Another theater with which she had a close relationship was the WPA. There she met Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, leading to a long-lasting friendship. She appeared in Menken’s “Weird Romance,” Anne Commire’s “Starting Monday,” and scored a great hit when she originated the lovelorn Audrey in the musical comedy “Little Shop of Horrors.” She received critical acclaim for the stage productions in New York, Los Angeles and London, and starred in the film version of the production, which has gone on to become a cult classic.
Other film credits include “I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can,” “Talk Radio,” “Me and Him,” “Pump Up the Volume,” “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult,” “Rock-a-Doodle,” “Stepping Out,” “Wagons East,” “The Professional,” “Killer: A Journal of Murder,” “One Fine Day,” “Jaded,” “Alex in Wonder” (aka “Sex and a Girl”) and “The Cooler.” She will also be seen in the upcoming film, “Privileged.”
Television credits include the miniseries “Seventh Avenue,” “Rock Follies,” “Miami Vice,” “Cybill,” “Suddenly Susan,” “The X-Files,” “Crossing Jordan” and “Heroes.” Greene received an ACE Award nomination for her role as Sister Ruth, a rock singer-turned-evangelist, in the HBO miniseries “Glory! Glory!” She also starred as Kitty Packard in the remake of “Dinner at Eight,” and in the Hallmark production, “Fielder’s Choice” and “Mystery Woman: Sing Me a Murder.”
When she can, Greene returns to her first love, cabaret. In her current show, “Torch,” she brings her experience and artistic integrity to a diverse selection of music, ranging from jazz standards to contemporary pop songs. Playbill.com called her “One of the most entrancing cabaret performers … witnessed in a long time … her emotional nakedness and fragility comes across in most every number,” and designated her Winner of the Ten Best Performances of 2003 and 2004. Her album “In His Eyes,” won rave reviews and was voted Vocal Recording of the Year of 2004 by Playbill Magazine.