April Kidwell: Star of Tomorrow
By James Murphy
I never stop searching for new talents on film. Why? Because today’s household name was once undiscovered. The difference between a big name and an unknown is simple luck and timing. ‘Being jammy’ as Ewan McGregor once said. Unfair on himself perhaps, as he is a genuinely gifted chap.
But the other common denominator? Overlooked, all too easily, in today’s world of instant return and viral video led fame? TALENT. You NEED that certain something, a magic, a star power that shines brightly, innately, unavoidably, such that the opportunities chase YOU.
Fuse that quality to a work ethic of steel and a survival instinct forged in granite grit, with just that added splash of magic glamour? And BINGO. THAT is what I like to locate and write about ahead of its natural time in the limelight. A scoop, a discovery.
Gold-dust, dynamite and divine revelation. All in a split second where you press pause on a movie and ask ‘who is THAT? I need their details..I want that first interview before they go truly stellar’.
That kind of Eureka moment is precisely how I felt when first I glimpsed APRIL KIDWELL.
And so I found her details, pitched an interview and we chatted. I must confess to being a tad star-struck. #bitofacrush, in fact. But still, objective. April’s charisma and charm are empirical facts.
It’s like Brie Larson had a clone baby with Jessica Lange and /or Jim Carrey. Think Nancy Travis, adopted by Cirque Du Soleil. But still somehow her own, original, April shaped presence and more!
Classic Hollywood. New Energy. Raw talent. Charm! THAT is APRIL.
I saw April in a documentary: You Don’t Nomi. It’s about the making and legacy of Showgirls (1995). Quite why I was watching said movie at a weird hour is my business. Amazon recommended it if you must know. Because I like documentaries about films.
And Showgirls is a case study in hubris, in marketing misfire, in failed formula and it’s a lesson that gaudy sex and high camp simply cannot fuse in harmony at the Box Office all the time.
Batman and Robin (1997) represents a similar moral in filmmaking during the same era, albeit without the sex stuff. There was no virtue in postmodernism or camp for camp’s sake.
There was, however, an underlying current of cult value. A second chance in waiting. And You Don’t Nomi charts that. There was a journey for Showgirls whereby it could live on as a stage show, relishing in camp and comedy. April Kidwell is at the centre of that.
April’s leading role in Showgirls: The Musical made her a natural standout contributor to the Nomi documentary. Because this girl IS Nomi, to an even greater extent than Elizabeth Berkley (Nomi in the original movie).
To those uninitiated in the lore and mythology of Showgirls, Nomi is the heroine of the piece. She’s an ambitious young dancer who works her way up the pole of Vegas shows toward a shot at the truly big time. The lady must fight for her soul as part of that journey, as she encounters some terrible corruption amidst the gloss and glamour. It’s a character who personifies moral struggle. Faustian. Promethean. But sexier. And she kinda wins.
April has LIVES the Nomi story in so many ways. Not in the sense of being a lap dancer in Vegas or being compromised by the pulp noir subplots dreamed up by Showgirls’ writer Joe Eszterhas. But in a far more epic way?
April is a survivor. Indeed, she is most candid about the struggles endured in her acting journey. In You Don’t Nomi, for example, April talks about the dangers of the business. One account in particular is especially moving. I shan’t recount it here. Watch the film.
April is not after fame as an end in itself. Which possibly explains why the girl is not yet a household name. Her quest is purer, more about the work, the joy of performing and in relishing a gift for comedy and music and dance, whilst honing a craft the whole time.
Of course, April does not oppose discovery. If her work gets noticed and the offers become high profile? There is a simple logic to the nature of career development. Her versatility is such that any genre would suit. She has the body and coordination of an action star; balletic, poised, readied for combat.
There is a malleable face, too: one is reminded of Jim Carrey and he is one of her favourite actors. April is the first (and I suspect, last?) woman I have ever been able to discuss Cable Guy with and agree that the movie is an underrated gem. And April adores Tilda Swinton: ‘Always a delight to watch this unparalleled androgynous shapeshifter. I love actors that are honest and transformable’.
Dance is of course, pervasive and core to her work. It’s a shame that we are no longer in the era of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Because yes, April CAN Tap dance! She’s adorably multi-faceted, competent, feminine, beautiful and yet somehow, always down to earth and accessibly warm and funny.
And what of April’s inspirations? The precedents for her own star quality or movies she might like to emulate, as her career evolves? The benefit in talking to a fellow film fan is that there are no shortage of possibilities to probe.
- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – ‘Bill Murray gives a sensational, hilarious and heart’- breaking performance. It’s aesthetically stunning with a perfect balance of poignancy and humor. My favorite of the Mark Mothersbough soundtracks with the strong David Bowie theme throughout’.
- Life Is Beautiful – ‘A gut wrenching tale of creating and finding hope amongst the horror. That’s my big ugly cry movie’.
- Moana – ‘I love everything about this film and can write a dissertation on it. It’s perhaps the only Disney film I’d feel comfortable letting my future kids watch. A young woman preparing to be chief sets off on an adventure to save her people and island by holding the patriarchy accountable and restoring the matriarchy! AND there’s NO ROMANCE!!!!! It’s such a fantastic example for girls! The Rock singing “You’re Welcome” always makes me want to break out into tap dance’.
- American Astronaut – ‘A hard to find black and white Sci Fi Western Musical. This film is out of this world. Super weird and I love everything about it!’