Her Role as 'David's' Single Mom Makes Demands on Ellen Greene

Ellen Greene is getting skinnier by the minute.

"Some people gain weight under pressure; I lose," says the actress ("Stepping Out," "Talk Radio"), who plays a single mom caring for her autistic teen in Bob Randall's "David's Mother" at Pasadena Playhouse. Greene is offstage just twice in two hours, and she acknowledges that the physical and emotional demands of the role "are very, very hard. In order to be funny, you have to know the sadness--and yet you have to be able to shut it off."

The Brooklyn-born actress, who's been married for two years to Hungarian photographer Tibor Hardik (they met when he was remodeling her New York home) doesn't have any children, and says the prospect of rearing a disabled child is daunting: "Honestly, I don't know if I could. Families like these are in a no-win situation. There's no good solution, and no one's the bad guy. My hat is off to these people."

Greene, who created the role of Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors" Off-Broadway (which she reprised onstage locally and in the 1986 film) is often drawn to difficult roles. "I've done parts no one else wants to do," she says cheerfully of her stints at the New York Public Theatre, including "In the Boom Boom Room," "The Sorrows of Stephen" and "Threepenny Opera," which got her a Tony nomination.

Although Greene has been with "David's Mother" since its Cleveland Playhouse debut 1 1/2 years ago, she's taken time off between stagings for other projects--notably Alan Menken's "Weird Romance" and the "Peter Allen Celebration," which she'll reprise in January. Until December, however, life revolves around this play, which will go on tour after the Pasadena run. "I'm living in a hotel, by myself," she says grimly. "It's not great. I miss my husband, my animals, my plants, my life."

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