Laura Michelle Kelly


by Joanna Orland

From her Olivier Award winning stage performance as Mary Poppins to her starring role in Australian musical film Goddess, Laura Michelle Kelly has proven that she has the musical acting chops to make the jump from stage to screen.  In Goddess, Laura plays a mother of young twins who lives in an isolated farmhouse in Tasmania.  She finds unexpected fame when her song performances go viral without the knowledge of her absentee husband, played by Ronan Keating.

Laura took time out from her theatrical rehearsals of her latest starring role in the musical Finding Neverland to chat to Loose Lips.

Loose Lips:  Why don’t we start at the beginning and talk about how you first got into music and acting?

Laura Michelle Kelly:  I grew up on a farm and somehow fell into entertaining the people down my road. And then did an open audition for Beauty and the Beast.  That was my first job when I was 16.  I kept doing lead roles in West End theatre shows for the next 10 years and then somehow find myself in New York.

LL:  Did you have any professional training or did you just fall into it through the audition?

LMK: I just always worked on stage.  I got involved with the local theatre until 16 and then my experience was on the big stage.  I think that my professional training was professional experience.  I was lucky.

LL: Who were some of your musical and acting influences when you were growing up?

LMK:  I was a big Celine Dion fan. I used to sing all of her songs.  And Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.  I was between the ages of 5 and 15, that was the height of their fame and I would love those 3 big divas.  When we were young, those ladies influenced my life.  Barbara Streisand too even.  I am still inspired by her.

LL:  What do you look for in choosing your roles?

LMK:  Sometimes I audition for Broadway shows and I’m like, ‘Hmm this one won’t be as fun’ if it’s really heavy.  That said, I did a heavy show recently in London.  I did the The Second Mrs Tanqueray.  They’re fun in a different way, they’re fun in a challenging way like you learn something in life.  Goddess is really about having fun and finding the fun in anything.  That’s what I liked about the movie.  There’s kids, there are songs, there’s comedy and a singing mum.  It’s just really fun.

LL:  How did you get involved with Goddess especially as it’s an Australian film?

LMK:  They cast me in London even before they got a lot of the funding.  They just always wanted me to do it and I became really good friends with the team.  Mark Lamprell wrote the script, he did a really good job.  We’re writing another movie together I hope.  We’ve got some ideas.  It would be quite fun to be part of another movie with him.

LL:  Did you feel funny as the English girl amongst an Australian cast?

LMK:  No, because it was supposed to be written that way.  That it was a girl isolated in the middle of nowhere.  She gets lonely and bored.  Put an English girl in Australia.

LL:  What was your favourite scene to film in the movie?

LMK:  Oh, good question.  I know my hardest scene was… it was a song about mums (she sings a bit from the song).  It was about my mum being in heaven and singing and playing guitar and lip syncing and dancing at the same time.  That was a hard day.  Just having to play the guitar on tune at the same time as being on your mark. That was a fun, difficult day.  So that’s probably one of my favourite scenes.  I quite liked being in Tasmania too.  We did all of the (she sings “the hills are alive”) bits from the first opening.  We ended up shooting that very last and it was freezing in Tasmania.  We needed so many coats even though it looks really sunny.

LL:  So obviously you’ve done a lot of musical theatre.  Was there anything you specifically did with your performance in the film Goddess that you would’ve done differently if it were a stage production?

LMK:  Oh that’s another good question.  I just approached it like I approach any part really.  I know that the acting style is different to Broadway than it is to film.  I’ve always been very filmic in my acting style anyway.  I’m always being told to give more.  It was a different type of art form really.  I liked it. 

LL:  Are you going to do more film or focus on theatre next?  Or TV perhaps?  Or just music?  What are your future plans?

LMK:  I ended up getting a Broadway show that’s about to happen called Finding Neverland, Harvey Weinstein is producing.  I am hoping for more, I had so much fun doing this film this is where I want to head now.

LL:  You’re doing Broadway now and you’ve performed on the West End, what do you feel are the key differences between the two audiences?

LMK:  Everyone’s universally joyed by the ideas of love, lost and adventure and I think it’s the same the world over.  But it is fun to hear the different reactions.  The American people laugh more out loud and English people laugh more internally if you’re going to compare them, but that’s a very generic sweeping statement.

LL:  And do you ever feel like you tailor your performance for one audience or another?

LMK:  I might ham it up a bit more for an American audience.  But actually, I ham it up for anyone.  I love a good laugh.  I inherited being a goof from my dad.  My dad’s a poet and he’s a really fun person and thankfully more in my adult years than when I was a kid, I seem to have inherited his quirky sense of humour.  I love comedy roles, I really do, they just make me so happy.

LL:  If there were only one word to summarize Laura Michelle Kelly, what would that one word be?

LMK:  (laughs) No… I can’t do one word!  Oh…. One word to summarize myself… I don’t know! I think of myself as goofy.  I do, but I don’t know if that’s all encompassing.


Goddess is released in UK cinemas on July 4th, 2014

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