Join 3,514 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Not fancy like Levittown
October 15, 2013 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Ellen Greene sings Somewhere That's Green for Little Shop Of Horrors in 1983 in London
posted by The Whelk (50 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I was a freshman in high school, our school did Little Shop Of Horrors as the Spring Musical.

Obviously as a lowly 9th grader with only vaguely non-sucky musical talents, I did not get cast as Audrey. But I bought this very album and became OBSESSED with Little Shop and listened to it over and over (and sang along, of course, ESPECIALLY to this and Suddenly Seymour) until my parents wanted to kill me.

The upshot? Little Shop Of Horrors is my madeleine. Thanks for bringing it all back.
posted by Sara C. at 10:18 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I sang the bit for Audrey II in a community theater production. It was a blast. Our Audrey did well, but not as letter perfect as Ms. Greene.
posted by Goofyy at 10:34 PM on October 15, 2013


Thanks to modcloth, I now own all the dresses Ellen Greene wears in the movie version of this song. But, I still can't sing. :(
posted by betweenthebars at 10:35 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can actually sing the entire score to LSoH when prompted. I didn't train for this. It just kinda happened.

I did a really suggestive version of "grow for me" at the Green Lantern in D.C that involved some walking on the bar and then falling off bar stools.
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 PM on October 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


I have a kitchen.
But it is not a complete kitchen.
I will not be truly gay
Until I have a
Dispose-all.


What's with the dispose-all as an ironic symbol of middle class aspiration? Discuss.
posted by NoraReed at 11:23 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Little Shop Of Horrors is my madeleine.

Yeah, suddenly I'm back in grade nine, discovering that women exist and feeding them to vegetables.

I can actually sing the entire score to LSoH when prompted.

If this thread doesn't turn into a sing-a-long we're doing it wrong. Stop right where you are, don't you move a thing.

You better, telling you you better,
tell your momma, somethin's gonna get her.
She better... everybody better beware!
Comma comma comma..
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:26 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I this where we declare our love for the Little Shop of Horrors film? Because I love the Little Shop of Horrors film. Perfectly staged and directed. Even the changed ending works well.
posted by AndrewStephens at 11:47 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even the changed ending works well.

Have you seen the original ending that they filmed for the movie? It's the same as the theatrical ending but with much, much better visual effects than my high school could afford. It has kaiju Audrey II stomping through the streets of New York destroying everything in her path. Why would you not want kaiju Audrey II?

The original ending turns the entire play/movie into war propaganda for the human resistance.

The show's just not over until they eat Cleveland... and Des Moines... and Peoria... and New York...
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:07 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why would you not want kaiju Audrey II?

Because it just doesn't fit the rest of the film. I've never seen the stage show, but the film (which I adore) really makes us care about Seymour and Audrey, we WANT them to have a happy ending. They're kind of ridiculous, over-the-top characters, but at the same time they are very sympathetic and their love is such a pure, sweet thing. All the stuff about escaping from Skid Row and Audrey getting beaten by the evil dentist and Suddenly Seeeeeymour, it really tugs at the heartstrings. The original ending is shocking and memorable and impressively staged, but it's just wrong for the story we've been watching. The final ending, with the OR IS IT THE END?? tag, is just perfect, hitting just the right note of sweetness and camp.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:22 AM on October 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


we WANT them to have a happy ending

I like the story as a Faustian tragedy. We like Seymour but he's spent the entire play/movie building a hell for himself. The meek are gonna get what's coming to them by and by.

Watching him take Audrey down with him is tugging those heartstrings till they snap. Her dreams are so small.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:44 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh Ellen! I played Audrey once and I remember the first time I sang this in rehearsals I just cried and cried. 'Her dreams are so small' - exactly.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:08 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe I saw that very production. They did a sterling job all round. The "scare the front rows" ending was excellent.
posted by Decani at 1:23 AM on October 16, 2013


My husband was in class with Howard Ashman and Alan Menken when they were writing LOSH. For that I am eternally jealous.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:18 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I played Seymour in a high school production way back in the mists of time: this thread had thinking back and me puzzling over the ending (which I certainly prefer in its original form) and the penultimate line of the finale -- "we'll have tomorrow", sung by Seymour and Audrey. Turns out there was a song cut from the show with precisely that title, which you can see here.
posted by Omission at 2:36 AM on October 16, 2013


Earlier this year I got to see the Little Shop movie in a theatre, with the restored ending. Seeing it on the big screen was everything I could have dreamed of.

And I love Ellen Greene in everything I've seen her in - she was perfect in Pushing Daisies and I was so chuffed at her cameo in Hannibal.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:59 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was in the chorus at school. We started rehearsing 'Mean Green Mother' until someone in staff twigged what 'mother' was short for, and they also changed 'whores' to 'bores' in Downtown. Ah, Catholic school. (We weren't allowed to put on Grease as it was considered too racy, but I didn't like Grease anyway.) My friend's dad would sing 'Suddenly Seymour' as 'Suddenly greenteeth'. I'm not sure why.

I'd love to do the voice of Audrey II as a female tenor.
posted by mippy at 3:35 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does the film have the song in where Seymour gets an offer from Life magazine?
posted by mippy at 3:36 AM on October 16, 2013


Mippy: that's "The Meek Shall Inherit," and I'm pretty sure it's not included in the film version.
posted by HeroZero at 4:06 AM on October 16, 2013


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "Even the changed ending works well.

Have you seen the original ending that they filmed for the movie ? It's the same as the theatrical ending but with much, much better visual effects than my high school could afford. It has kaiju Audrey II stomping through the streets of New York destroying everything in her path. Why would you not want kaiju Audrey II?

The original ending turns the entire play/movie into war propaganda for the human resistance.

The show's just not over until they eat Cleveland... and Des Moines... and Peoria... and New York...
"

More modern horror would be improved with Motown quasi-Grecian choruses. Just sayin'.
posted by Samizdata at 4:11 AM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ah yes! I like singing the Life magazine verse, but I can never remember how the rest of the song hangs together.
posted by mippy at 4:12 AM on October 16, 2013


Yeah, The Meek Shall Inherit was recorded by the movie cast and it looks like a certain % of it was filmed, but only a severely truncated form remains in the film.
posted by bookwo3107 at 5:12 AM on October 16, 2013


Last year I converted my kid and a couple of her friends to the One True Way of LSoH worship. A few weeks ago we got the director's cut with the original everybody-dies ending and it was immediately declared the best thing ever captured on film, OMG, play it again, everyone we know needs to see this right now. (Which is all true, of course)

There is an argument that the happy ending actually makes LSoH a much darker, borderline nihilistic movie:
Howard Ashman stated that Little Shop of Horrors was to be read as "a cautionary tale, a fable which says that if you do these things, this will happen." But just as Marlowe’s Faust allowed the student to escape with his soul intact, Little Shop of Horrors as released demonstrates that murder is acceptable, even rewarded, if you’re not too bright and you’ve done it all for love.
It really bothers me that The Meek Shall Inherit was (almost entirely) cut from the film. Without it, the story skims past Seymour's moral dilemma and inherent weakness, that he fully knows everything he's doing is wrong but is terrified of losing Audrey and being alone in the world. It kind of makes sense for the theatrical version with the happy ending, but I wish it had been restored in the director's cut.

Plus, it's just plain fun to sing, and isn't that why we all came to this thread?
you've got no alternative, Seymour old boy
though it means you'll be broke again and unemployed
it's the only solution, it can't be avoided
the vegetable must be destroyed!
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:37 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the video description:
My dad was stage manager on the show and has kept this video for many years as a reminder of happy days in Londons West End.
It's amazing how the internet enables this kind of thing, while at the same time being such an ephemeral medium. What was once a video cassette on a shelf is now available for nearly anyone on the planet to see, and it'll probably vanish again within a few years.

I once visited a professor's house on Cape Cod, a little place probably 1m above sea level, and the walls were packed with reel-to-reel tapes. His father had obsessively recorded as many radio broadcasts from the BBC as he could.

The mind staggers at the shared cultural heritage that's just sitting on someone's shelf, just a storm away from completely vanishing.
posted by odinsdream at 5:38 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


we WANT them to have a happy ending

Exactly. Little Shop is gut-wrenchingly sad, because it's a comedy about the people who have nothing, find a little spark of happiness because of absolutely horrible (but hilarious) circumstances, then lose it all far too quickly. Adding a happy ending takes away the power, especially the reprise of "Somewhere That's Green" that happens just before (SPOILER) Audrey gets fed to Audrey II.

You'll wash my tender leaves
and smell my sweet perfume
you'll water me
and care for me
you'll see me bud and bloom


I'm feeling strangley happy now
contented and serene
O don't you see
finally I'll be
Somewhere that's green.

posted by xingcat at 6:04 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


A dear friend of mine has played one of Crystal, Chiffon, or Ronette in several different productions. She said that the biggest challenge was to casually walk off one side of the stage singing, then immediately sprint around the set while stripping off a dress, climb a ladder in heels, and get out on a fire escape on the set while casually singing.

Love the musical. It always amused me that the actor, Vincent Gardenia, was playing a man who ran a flower shop.
posted by plinth at 6:24 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw this in London in 1985 and the main thing I remember is that the program came with a glossary of American slang to explain to you what Levittown was.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:36 AM on October 16, 2013


Yeah the play is usually staged much more broadly comedic and farcical then the movie version, which is almost touchingly sweet and earnest at times. Didn't Frank Oz say he couldn't kill Audrey and Seymour cause they wouldn't come back to life at the end of the movie to take a bow like they would in a play?
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Chills. It's just dawned on me, having come out of a breakup, that I'll never be happy because no woman will ever love me like Audrey loves Seymour in this song.
posted by meadowlark lime at 7:53 AM on October 16, 2013


And now reading on Wikipedia that Ellen Greene was still in the London production in 1985 I realize I once saw Ellen Greene live! I wish I had gone to more plays when I did that London semester but I was always broke.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:58 AM on October 16, 2013


I watched the link last night, at about 10pm or so, and the next thing I knew -- it was 2AM! I'd fallen into a youtube hole of Ellen Greene in every clip I could find from the movie, Ellen Greene on the tonight show with Carson, nervously talking about her "sweetheart," and singing.

Then I found audio clips of Howard Ashman (himself!) singing Poor Unfortunate Souls, and a bunch of other songs he wrote for Disney. Then my roommate pointed out that Hercules also used the Greek chorus/girl-group concept for its intro.

Then I realized one of the Greek chorus singers from Little Shop grew up to be Tichina Arnold, and another grew up to be Tisha Campbell-Martin

I'm exhausted this morning, but it was worth it.

Thank you, the Whelk.
posted by MoxieProxy at 9:30 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was watching an episode of "Pushing Daisies" where Ellen Greene was dueting with Kristen Chenoweth on "Little Birdhouse in Your Soul" when my husband walked in. He stopped, pointed at the TV and said, "... wha?"

Me: Oh, I know. It's Kristen Chenoweth! From Wicked! And this other lady.
Husband: ... NO.

He stood there with his arms crossed and a little stormcloud over his head until the episode ended, marched over to the DVD shelf, snapped LSOH open and slapped it into the player. I laughed, I cried, it was better than CATS.

But those minutes when I didn't know what else Ellen Greene had done -- man, I don't know how our marriage survived.
posted by hmo at 10:25 AM on October 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


As a sidenote, I wish some footage of Tisha Campbell as Really Rosie existed on the internet. I guess we'll always have the playbill, though.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:25 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I keep waiting for the singing scenes from the LSoH episode of Head of the Class to show up on YouTube...
posted by booksherpa at 10:47 AM on October 16, 2013


they also changed 'whores' to 'bores' in Downtown

I also did this when I was a summer camp counselor directing a parents' weekend production of LSOH (at an all-girls camp, ages 8-15 - not an arts camp, just an all-around, running about in the woods sort of camp). Sorry to be such a square - the parents would have killed me. Despite that (and some of the heavier themes - domestic violence, eek), it's a fun play to do with kids. My Audrey was incredibly talented, and the sisters that played Seymour and Orin were extremely funny. There's a note at the beginning of the script that says something along the lines of, "Resist the urge to ham it up. Play the characters as sincerely as possible. The play is funny, and audiences will laugh - don't worry so much about that. Make sure they also genuinely love the characters." I had a day where I was kind of frustrated with my kids, and I read this to them, not entirely expecting them to get it, but they totally did, and it was a really cool thing to watch. For having thrown the whole thing together in like 2 weeks, I think we did a pretty solid job, although the part that I got the most comments on afterward was when one of the camp's cats randomly wandered onto the stage.
posted by naoko at 12:19 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Onions, man. Someone is cutting a lot of onions nearby. *sniff*

My best friend and I watched this movie countless times together in junior high, but listened to this song in particular over and over again--because we couldn't for the life of us figure out what a "tractouse" was. And while the Internet existed, we neither had access to it in our homes or school at that time nor realized that if we'd gone to the library and used their one Internet computer we probably could have found the lyrics. When our school's theater department was deciding on a Spring production, we lobbied heavily for LSoH because a) We loved it and b) We'd get to see the book and would finally know the lyric! We failed--ended up doing the Crucible, I think?--but eventually discovered the actual lyric when he had the bright idea to turn on the VCR's closed captioning setting. OH. Tract house. Not that we'd ever heard that term, but we figured it out.
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:48 PM on October 16, 2013


So many of the references in this song and others were mystifying Things To Look Up for me.

The ones I remember:

Terrazzo floor, steno pool, Skid Row, tract house, Levittown, sadist, and possibly something about sleeping pills?
posted by Sara C. at 2:13 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


although the part that I got the most comments on afterward was when one of the camp's cats randomly wandered onto the stage.

SUDDENLY KITTENS
ARE WALKING BEHIND YOU
WITH MEWING INDIFFERENCE
KITTENS ARE YOUR FRIEND
posted by The Whelk at 2:14 PM on October 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


(oh hey apparently I can't just sing one verse I need to go through the entire thing under my breath when promoted)
posted by The Whelk at 2:16 PM on October 16, 2013


What's with the dispose-all as an ironic symbol of middle class aspiration? Discuss.
I always assumed this was a NYC-specific thing. They were illegal until 1997, and even though they're apparently becoming more common in luxury buildings, I've never seen one. I live in a not-bad part of New York (post-Disneyfication even!), but a green lawn and a garbage disposal definitely have their draw...
posted by twoporedomain at 2:51 PM on October 16, 2013


Yeah, I've lived in a few different parts of the country and in urban, suburban, and rural landscapes, and garbage disposal in the sink is totally a suburban All Mod Cons type of thing to have.
posted by Sara C. at 2:59 PM on October 16, 2013


Also, related question -- why do double-glazed windows represent the same thing in British media?
posted by Sara C. at 2:59 PM on October 16, 2013


British houses are drafty, British weather is dire.
posted by The Whelk at 3:07 PM on October 16, 2013


Adding a happy ending takes away the power

I'd argue that the happy ending is very powerful in a different way, because the story has gone down such dark, tragic paths that when they finally get the little house in the suburbs, it really matters.

Seymour agonizes plenty about what he's doing, and the movie gives him a little wiggle room because technically he never murders anybody. The dentist asphyxiates and Mr. Mushnick kind of backs into Audrey II's snapping jaws. In both cases, Seymour doesn't take action to save them, which is not quite the same as killing them. He spends the whole movie in a moral quandary, striking a classic Faustian bargain for the love of Audrey. But in the end he makes his choice, finds his courage and takes action to defeat Audrey II, and finds out Audrey doesn't love him for the fame and money, she loves him for who he is. It's beautiful stuff.

I am a cynical sort and I generally like my drama dark (my favorite seasons of TV shows are always the ones that other fans dismiss as too depressing), but the movie is plenty dark as-is and killing Audrey and Seymour just does not work. The deleted scenes are good, but they don't belong in the finished film because the finished film is JUST RIGHT.

(The only lingering question from the otherwise perfect ending is, what's the deal with Audrey II attacking Seymour's balls? Audrey II says he/she/it is going to bust Seymour's balls, we see a tendril crashing between Seymour's thighs, Seymour looks horrified... and then he just scurries away, not limping, not obviously bloody... Did Audrey II miss, somehow? Is Seymour castrated, but he's too distracted to let it bother him?)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:27 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clearly, despite appearances, Seymour has balls of steel.
posted by MoxieProxy at 5:36 PM on October 16, 2013


possibly something about sleeping pills

Sominex!
posted by naoko at 7:13 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


YES I pondered the line

"I couldn't sleep/
I took a sominex"

for weeks, because the syllables that make up sominex (especially in Ellen Greene's, um, "unusual" singing style) just would NOT resolve into a word I was familiar with. Not unlike rhiannonstone and tract house. Luckily, I first came across LSOH through a school production, so I think I just flipped through the choir director's sheet music till I found the lyric.
posted by Sara C. at 7:20 PM on October 16, 2013


Clearly, despite appearances, Seymour has balls of steel.

Either that, or Audrey II overestimated him.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:46 PM on October 16, 2013


Although in the footage, it looks like Audrey II's tendril smashes right through "that area", I think it was meant to be more of Audrey II pinning Seymour against the wall. Certainly, if she had just smashed through them, he wouldn't be just trotting so easily around the shop.
[goes off to look for other bits of 27-year-old films to discuss... Up next: Cameron odd "He's gonna be a fry cook on Venus!" line from Ferris Bueller's Day Off]

posted by blueberry at 11:24 PM on October 16, 2013


The Meek Shall Inherit
posted by The Whelk at 11:43 PM on October 16, 2013


Don't Feed The Plants.
posted by The Whelk at 11:53 PM on October 16, 2013


« Older Cats Stealing Dog Beds [slyt]...  |  JJ Levine is an artist based i... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments