Lisa McCune says she’s having a few elegance issues.
The Gold Logie winner is in the midst of rehearsals for The King and I, practising famous tunes such as Getting to Know You, while managing a corset and hooped skirt.
McCune is the only one wearing a costume, even if it’s a looser version of the one she will wear on stage.
“This is my rehearsal version,” she tells AAP.
“We’ve got the corset in place to try and help me work out about stance and elegance. I’m having a few elegance issues.”
“It’s fantastic actually. You can’t slouch in it – you go to do that 2014 slouch and you just can’t…
“And then we go into the big skirts and of course, they’re boned and they’re huge and more a concern for other people onstage working with me.
“So it’s just trying to give them the idea of how enormous I actually am on stage.”
What is enormous, is this new production of The King and I, which is set to travel to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney this year.
Producer John Frost says depending on its success, Perth, Adelaide and an international tour could also be on the cards.
Based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, The King and I became a hit on Broadway in 1951 and then a film in 1956. It also already has quite a history in Australia.
A revival toured Australia back in 1991 and it was so successful it moved to Broadway, won four Tony Awards and then went on to London, the US and the UK.
“It’s been touring the world for quite a long time,” Frost says.
“So I thought it was appropriate to bring it back to Australia, to it’s home and after 20-odd years it’s back.”
He says it’s the same production, but enhanced. They’re building the costumes and the sets and spending an extra million dollars on making it look really sumptuous.
“Whereas this show is costing us around $5 million, when we did it 20-odd years ago it cost us $2 million, but we’re throwing a lot more jewellery at it, a lot more colour and tricks than we did before,” he says.
“It is so visually spectacular, you’ll have to wear sunglasses.”
It also reunites McCune with acclaimed baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes after their successful national tour of South Pacific, which was also presented by Opera Australia and Frost.
For McCune, it was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down.
“I guess where I’ve been really lucky with The King and I is to encounter another Rodgers and Hammerstein, and this will be my third in my performing lifetime,” McCune, who also played Maria in The Sound of Music, says. “I’m really lucky.
“But personally and professionally it’s probably the last of the big musicals, for an older female moving into musical theatre.”
And then there’s the story itself. Set in 1862, the King of Siam (played by Rhodes) hires the widowed Anna (McCune), a British schoolteacher with a young son, to tutor his many children and wives, and help change the barbaric image the West has of him.
McCune says it’s an interesting time, place and clash of cultures.
“And a beautiful love story that’s not like Romeo and Juliet but it’s an older, more maturing, understanding love that the King and Anna develop,” she says.
“It’s quite beautiful. I haven’t gone through the end without crying yet.”
THE KING AND I 2014 AUSTRALIAN DATES:
From April 13 – Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane
From June 10 – Princess Theatre, Melbourne
From September 9 – Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House