Gemma Arterton's sunshine serenade in new movie Song For Marion is simply magical
08:00 GMT, 6 July 2012
Sexing up the high Cs: Gemma Arterton fought to keep a key scene in Song For Marion
Actress Gemma Arterton had to fight to get a key scene in a new film featuring her and Terence Stamp re-instated after it had been left on the cutting room floor.
She told me that the sequence gave important background about her character, Elizabeth, a teacher and choir mistress for senior citizens, in the movie Song For Marion.
Having now seen the picture, I can attest that every moment Gemma’s on screen is magical, so I can’t comprehend any key scene of hers getting the chop.
Vanessa Redgrave is also in the film, as the eponymous Marion, a member of the choir, called the OAPZ, who has a terminal illness. She’s as sunny as her husband Arthur (played by Stamp) is dour.
Arthur, understandably, is miserable because he fears losing his wife, and matters aren’t helped by the estrangement between him and the couple’s son, played by Christopher Eccleston.
One morning, Marion and Arthur are in bed when Elizabeth and her choir serenade them in the rain with You Are The Sunshine Of My Life. Marion’s delighted but Arthur’s grumpy mood sends them scampering away.
Paul Andrew Williams, who made the celebrated independent picture London To Brighton, invests his film with many such pleasurable cinematic moments. His credo here, embodied by Vanessa’s Marion, seems to be that life will get better if we embrace the moment, and each other.
Williams’s cinematographer, Carlos Catalan, captures the joy that Redgrave’s Marion projects with her eyes and that joy’s infectious, even though we know Marion’s dying.
Marion and Elizabeth rehearse a song, True Colours (a hit for Cyndi Lauper), that Marion will sing as a solo. As she performs you see her eyes searching for Arthur — then you watch how Gemma’s Elizabeth reacts, because she so wants Marion and Arthur to have this important moment.
I felt elated after seeing Song For Marion because it’s always exciting when actors give beautiful performances without over-egging it.
It’s also wonderful to just give yourself to a movie and slowly fall in love with it. I can tell you that this doesn’t happen often. It did, though, with Song For Marion and I want to sing out loud about it.
It’s due to open in January, but you can be sure it will feature in the various autumn film festivals.
Don't try stepping out with the Wicked Witch of the West End
Idina Menzel won’t dance, so don’t ask her. But she will sing.
The Tony award-winning Ms Menzel will appear in concert with a 25-piece orchestra for a one-week residency at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in October and then do one-night stands in Edinburgh and Manchester.
Menzel has been criss-crossing the U.S. with her band, playing 21 cities in 30 days. Her UK shows will feature material she has performed over 18 months of touring ‘and we’re adding a lot of new stuff for London’, she told me in a midnight phonecall from Los Angeles.
Touring the UK: Idina Menzel's UK shows will feature material she had performed over 18 months of touring
Idina created the part of Maureen in the musical Rent, off and on Broadway, and she was the original Elphaba in Wicked, appearing first in San Francisco, then in New York and also in the first London production.
‘So there’ll be songs from Wicked and
Rent, some standards — people like Cole Porter and some medleys from
the Thirties,’ she said.
One of the things Idina likes
to do is juxtapose old standards with something mainstream. ‘Like, you
take a song like Love For Sale and marry it with Roxanne, and the music
director arranges it in the style of Love For Sale,’ she explained. She
called that particular combination her ‘prostitute medley’.
‘Love For Sale was about a prostitute, really,’ she said. And what about Roxanne ‘Well, you know that Roxanne!’
asked her whether her set includes the obligatory dancing boys, or
girls. She was straight into it. ‘Rule number one: Don’t dance when you
can’t really dance.
will not have dancers because it’s just not me. I’ll be barefoot most of
the time, which is the way I feel most comfortable on the stage. I move
better and feel more comfortable in my body. Everyone from Liza
(Minnelli) to Beyonce has dancers, so maybe I’ll do it one day, but I’ll
have to do it as a spoof, because it doesn’t feel authentic to me.’
I started humming Don’t Dance and she mused about incorporating that number into her show.
Before she heads to the Apollo for her concert, from October 8 through October 14, and Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on October 16 and the Palace Theatre, Manchester, on October 17, she will resume touring in the States.
At the moment, she’s laying down dialogue and songs for the Disney animated film Frozen. She plays a queen and I wondered whether the character was wicked or evil.
She laughed and, alluding to Elphaba, who became the Wicked Witch of the West, said ‘those are always complicated questions’. ‘I’d say she is a good egg but she just gets a little misguided.’
In between all of this work she’s found a couple of weeks to mentor a group of underprivileged girls at a musical summer camp backed by her BroaderWay foundation. She and husband Taye Diggs invite theatre friends to help and, at the end, they all put on a show.
They even dance.
Are you ready for this teddy
There were people giving out free beer and pizza when I arrived at a screening of Ted — the number one movie in America at the moment — earlier this week.
I declined the free stuff and paid for popcorn.
Bear essentials: Mark Wahlberg and his furry friend in the new movie Ted
Ted has been written and directed by Seth MacFarlane, the man behind TV’s Family Guy. It stars Mark Wahlberg as a 35-year-old man who, since the age of eight, has kept his teddy bear close to him. Oh yeah, I should explain that after a freaky wish was granted, the bear walks, talks, drinks, smokes (a bong) and does, well, you name it. Yes, yes, that, too.
The funniest scene involves Ted, a root vegetable and a woman of white trash origins. I will go no further. Mila Kunis is the woman who wants Ted out of Wahlberg’s life.
The film’s the silliest fun I’ve had at the cinema all year. Leave your brain at home before you go to see it.
Watch out for…
Sharon Rooney, who describes herself on Twitter as a Scottish actress and part-time ghost hunter. Rooney has been cast as Rae in an E4 six-part drama based on Rae Earl’s real-life My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary.
Tom Bidwell has adapted Earl’s funny book and shifted the action from the Eighties to the mid-Nineties.
story deals with Rae’s preoccupation with her weight and boys. She
lives with her mother, played by Claire Rushbrook, on an estate in
Rising star: Andrea Riseborough is in negotiations to star in the screen version of Tracy Letts's prize-winning play August: Orange County
She has a love-hate relationship with her gorgeous best friend Chloe, played by newcomer Jodie Comer.
Other members of Rae’s gang are played by Darren Evans, Jordan Murphy, Ciara Baxendale, Nico Mirallegro and Dan Cohen, as Archie — the object of Rae’s desire. The series is being shot by Tiger Aspect for E4.
Mark Williams, who is starring as G.K. Chesteron’s Father Brown in a ten-part series based on the Father Brown mysteries for BBC TV. The dramas, also featuring Sorcha Cusack and the fabulous Nancy Carroll, are being shot on locations in the Cotswolds.
Andrea Riseborough, who is in the final stages of negotiations to star with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in the screen version of Tracy Letts’s prize- winning play August: Osage County.
Some of you may have seen the Steppenwolf Theatre production that visited the National Theatre a few seasons back. Meryl plays the pill-popping matriarch of a highly dysfunctional family in Oklahoma.
Julia will play one of Streep’s daughters, while Andrea will play Karen, the youngest girl. What have Meryl and Andrea in common They have both portrayed Margaret Thatcher on the screen.
Tskane Maswanganyi, the captivating classical soprano who plays Bess in the Cape Town Opera’s adaptation of the Gershwins’ Porgy And Bess, which begins 14 performances at the English National Opera in London next Wednesday. Cape Town Opera’s producers have shifted the story from Charleston’s Catfish Row to apartheid-era Soweto.
Jack O'Connell, who joins Eva Green and Rodrigo Santoro in the follow-up to 300. It’s also called 300. Or rather, 300: Battle For Artemisia. O’Connell is in training for the film’s kick-ass sword action.
He will play the part of Calista and will head out to Bulgaria for the shoot. I’ve just watched O’Connell, along with George MacKay, Maxine Peake and Alexandra Roache, in Pat O’Connor’s film Private Peaceful, based on Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling anti-war novel.
James Wilby, who will star with Laura Michelle Kelly in The Second Mrs Tanqueray. Wilby plays the man who makes Ms Kelly the second Mrs T. The Arthur Wing Pinero drama begins performances at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, from September 27.