Comic in full voice for musical turn
Magda Szubanski sings her heart out in writes
MAGDA Szubanski doesn’t need to go on X-Factor – she’s already received singing tips from Ronan Keating.
The Kath and Kim comedienne may not share any scenes with her Irish costar, but he gave her some advice when it was time to record songs for their Aussie movie musical Goddess.
‘‘Ronan was great, he was really just very supportive and encouraging which often is what you need,’’ she says.
Szubanski admits singing is not her normal area of expertise and while she’s been in musicals before, such as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, she would never consider herself a professional singer.
As no-nonsense corporate woman Cassandra Wolfe in Goddess, Szubanski has one big musical number – a song she originally wasn’t meant to sing, but insisted on doing.
‘‘It’s really fun to sort of let rip at my age with a whole different set of skills,’’ she says.
She says Wolfe, with her dramatic red hair and take-no-prisoners style has ‘‘a bit of a Vivienne Westwood sort of an attitude’’.
‘‘And there’s certainly a Devil Wears Prada aspect to it,’’ she says.
‘‘I mean I know women like that. I think we all do. And I respect women like that, they’re trailblazers.’’
Director and co-writer Mark Lamprell actually wrote the part of Wolfe especially for Szubanski. It was a fact she didn’t actually discover until they were doing interviews with media, well after filming had wrapped.
‘‘I didn’t realise actually, until doing this,’’ Szubanski says.
‘‘When Mark said that he’d written it forme . . . I was really chuffed.’’
Musical theatre star Laura Michelle Kelly, who plays the starring role of mother-of-two Elspeth Dickens and Keating’s onscreen wife, says they all had their fingers crossed Szubanski would join the cast.
British-born Kelly is best known for playing Mary Poppins on the West End and Broadway stages and was cast ‘‘two or three years’’ before Goddess was green-lit to be filmed.
‘‘I’d already gained the role (but) then I went on to do Mary Poppins on Broadway and thought ‘is this film ever going to get created’?’’ she says.
When it got the signal to go ahead, Kelly was in the middle of her contract as Mary Poppins. Luckily, Disney let her take a break to fly out from New York to make the movie. And although the role required singing, dancing and working with two small children, Kelly says it was the complete opposite to playing the famous nanny.
Goddess marks the second movie Kelly has made.
The first? Oh, just a role alongside Johnny Depp playing his wife Lucy, in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
‘‘I was able to play a minor part in that and I really loved the whole experience,’’ she says.
‘‘I was hoping Tim would ask me to do the next movie, because he always casts people he’s worked with before, so I’m still holding out for the next one,’’ she says, laughing.
‘‘I just am really happy that I’ve got a chance to do a lead (in this) and I’ve learnt so much more than I have done on other things I’ve done.’’
Michelle Kelly in a scene from