February 20th, 2004


Ellen Greene had already sung her heart out for nearly an hour when she started to launch into her signature tune, Little Shop of Horrors' "Suddenly Seymour." As the ever-familiar chords began, Greene said to the jam-packed audience at the Public Theater's Joe's Pub, "Sing with me."
The enthusiastic crowd responded with a rush of emotion and voice that filled the intimate theatre, gladly giving back to the talented woman who stood before them. It was an extremely moving moment, just one of several high points in Greene's exceptional Valentine's Day concert. As a concert artist, Greene is as good as it gets. She is touching, honest, funny, quirky, and above all, human. There are many great voices out there, but few who use them as bravely as Greene. I don't know much about Greene's personal life, and she thankfully seems to have found a great love in her accompanist and musical director Christian Klikovits, but one gets the sense that she has experienced her share of heartache and that life experience imbues her singing with great emotion and makes for compelling theatre.
Greene's act, a reprise of her acclaimed Torch! program, featured a mix of standards ("We Kiss in a Shadow," "Them There Eyes," "Never Never Land"), theatre songs ("Somewhere That's Green," "Pirate Jenny"), and contemporary tunes (Sarah McLachlan's "I Love You," Tori Amos' haunting "Winter").
Since it was Valentine's Day, it was fitting that most of the songs dealt with some aspect of love. Love longed for, love found, love lost. And, nowhere was she more riveting than in two songs just added to her repertoire, a medley of Nikka Costa's "Nothing Blues" and Paula Cole's, "Throwing Stones." As tears streamed down her face, Greene's voice soared as she sang of the pain of a love just ended. . . My only complaint: one night just isn't enough for this gifted artist. Hopefully some producer will have the good sense to book the singer-actress for an extended run, and when it happens, be sure to go somewhere that's Greene! . . .
A footnote: Greene began recording a new solo album the day after the concert.
Stay tuned for details!