Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

His Topsy-Turvy Life

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

His Topsy-Turvy Life

Article excerpt

Having survived Streisand and Titanic, gay Brit Allan Corduner takes the lead in an acclaimed new Gilbert and Sullivan biopic

His eyes are bright hazel, "flashing toward green," he elaborates. His mouth is almost always set in a smile. But London actor Allan Corduner's best asset is his finely tuned ear, a talent that pushes him into the ranks of great actors, gifted musicians, and goofy jokers.

He showcases his acting and musical skills playing half of Gilbert and Sullivan on-screen in Topsy-Turvy; he shows off his mischievousness doing wonderful imitations of celebrities over profiterole at a cafe in New York City's Greenwich Village. Barbra Streisand, for example. "We were on set one day, and people were talking about Oscar Wilde, and Barbra came in," he says, recalling his debut as "a Spoiled rich kid" in the Streisand film Yentl. "She was distracted but went [his voice shifts into perfect Streisand], `Wha-what-what are you talking about?' I said, `Oscar Wilde.' She went, `What? Who-who?' I said, `I can't believe you don't know about Oscar Wilde, Barbra. The Importance of Being Earnest?' And she went, `Oh, I know, I know--that gay guy.' Reduced immediately." He laughs.

The 49-year-old theater, TV, and movie vet is enjoying making merry after nine months as chief first-class steward aboard Broadway's Titanic in 1997-1998. He also has fun in his star turn as light-opera composer Arthur Sullivan in Topsy-Turvy. Winner of wore than one award for best picture of 1999, the Victorian-era musical dramatizes not only the creation of Gilbert and Sullivan's colorful The Mikado but also the age-old conflict between art and commerce. Sullivan represents the purity of art; he suffers a serious crisis and ultimately tells his collaborator, lyricist William Gilbert (Jim Broadbent), that he no longer intends to work on their "trivial souffles" about topsy-turvy situations: He plans to compose grand opera.

But Corduner's Sullivan is no aspiring snob; he's a libertine and a vibrant genius. "People said that when he walked in, he would light up a room," says Corduner, who speaks rapidly as his hands fly about. His hands also fly across the piano keyboard in Topsy-Turvy, and for once it really is the actor playing. …

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