Documentary in works about Deans Marsh soprano

June 12, 2021 BY

Marjorie Lawrence in Sydney, 1939.

A FILM about Surf Coast-born international opera star Marjorie Lawrence is in production, and the team behind the film hopes the documentary will have its premiere locally.

Marjorie Lawrence: The World at Her Feet features interviews with celebrated Australian conductors Richard Bonynge and Brian Castles-Onion, as well as Ita Buttrose, John Bolton Wood and Richard Wagner Society (VIC) president Miki Oikawa.

Australian International Pictures producer and director Wayne Groom said the feature-length documentary was based on a biography of Lawrence, Wotan’s Daughter, by author Richard Davis.

Born in Deans Marsh, Lawrence was well known as a soprano in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly for her performances of Wagnerian operas.

“She became the most famous Australian woman in the world and yet she has been largely forgotten in our time,” Mr Groom said. “Marjorie graced the opera theatres of urban and regional France in the 1930s, winning widespread acclaim.

“She performed at the Metropolitan in New York to rave reviews and became friends with President Roosevelt and his wife.

“She was invited to sing at Buckingham Palace for the Queen and Princess’s Elizabeth and Margaret, and was awarded the Legion of Honour by the French government for her services to French music.

“In 1955, MGM made a movie of her life, Interrupted Melody starring Glenn Ford and Eleanor Parker, which won an Academy Award, and the NBC devoted an episode of This Is Your Life to Marjorie, which garnered an audience of 60 million.”

Mr Groom and his colleague Dr Carolyn Bilsborow filmed Marjorie Lawrence: The World at Her Feet over the past 12 months in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, spending considerable time in Deans Marsh and Winchelsea, and flew to New Zealand last month to record narration for the documentary with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

“This wonderful biopic of Marjorie’s life features archival film footage of Marjorie never seen before in Australia,” he said.

“Kiri loved the documentary and identified with the journey that Marjorie went on to become a world famous soprano.

“Dame Kiri’s involvement will help to celebrate Marjorie’s wonderful life and remarkable achievements.”

Mr Groom said he hoped to hold the premiere of the documentary in September in Winchelsea at The Globe Theatre, which was built by Lawrence’s father, and was in talks with the Surf Coast Shire.

“Such an event with guests from around Australia would be great for Winchelsea and the region,” he said.