Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stuff I Like:
Topsy Turvy

My favorite two musical films produced in my lifetime are O Brother Where Are Thou and Topsy Turvy. The films could hardly be more different. O Brother was the bigger box office hit, Topsy Turvy got more critical acclaim. The musical styles are in direct contrast, with O Brother celebrating the roots music both black and white of the American South, while Topsy Turvy is Gilbert and Sullivan, about as far away from roots music as you can get. Another important difference in the two movies is that every actor in Topsy Turvy who sang or played an instrument is actually performing. In O Brother, George Clooney wanted to sing his part, but he is lip-synching.

Topsy Turvy has a wonderful cast. I have not put it up to a vote, but I will venture an opinion I expect is wide held that Jim Broadbent, Shirley Henderson and Timothy Spall are always good. Allan Corduner is not quite as well known to American audiences, but he is top notch as Sir Arthur Sullivan. Martin Savage is another actor better known to British audiences than to American, and he does a wonderful job as George Grossmith, the comic actor who played Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner in the original production of The Mikado back in 1885.

But let me turn my attention to Kevin McKidd for a moment. His first big break was in Trainspotting, the 1996 film about Scottish heroin addicts. But as is true with many a fine British actor, he can completely transform himself from role to role, and is nearly unrecognizable as the romantic tenor Durward Lely, who played Nanki-Poo. Watch this scene with him being prissy about his costume, then see some of his actual performance singing A Wand'ring Minstrel I.

Does that character remind you at all of the stern, upright and efficient Lucius Vorenus from Rome? Me, neither! I didn't realize it was the same actor until I saw Topsy Turvy again after Rome first aired.

I have the utmost respect for McKidd and wish him every success in his career going forward, though my good wishes for him are intermingled with a nearly uncontrollable jealous streak, since in his professional duties he got to snuggle and snog with Indira Varma.

In my obsessed Internet stalker brain, I believe that is my job.


namastenancy said...

I "hear" you about Kevin McKidd. When I watched "Topsy Turvy" recently, I kept looking at his character and wondering where I'd seen him before.

Go you on doing your job.

Mariano Paniello said...

I just found this blog online: I've been a fan of TT ever since it came out, and I just realized that KM played Lely: what range the guy has. Pity he'll probably get typecast a lot as the strong silent type.