REUNITING in yet another love song for the ages, Lisa McCune and heartthrob Teddy Tahu Rhodes will be gracing the stages of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane over coming months for latest rendition of the musical The King and I.

Fresh from their success in the South Pacific, both McCune and Rhodes glow in The King and I given the deep level of personal character development that Tony Award-winning producer John Frost has allowed them throughout the development of this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

By letting McCune fully embrace her maternal instincts while playing Anna Leonowens, Frost has brought a newfound level of humanity to The King and I, which enriches and promotes the diversity of culture found within this musical.

McCune said it was a challenge she couldn’t let pass by.

“In The King and I, I play Anna Leonowens who is living in Singapore. After being recently widowed, she answers an ad in the newspaper… by the King of Siam to be a tutor for his children,” she said.

“And so she takes on the challenge, takes a boat out to Thailand, and enters his court, his harem. And I guess it’s about the imperialism and the love of two people from very different cultures, who somehow have a meeting of minds, not to mention his children and their adventures in Thailand.”

But while diversity and challenging boundaries that influence diversity, such as racism, sexism and homophobia, may be some of the themes present within The King and I, they have also jumped off the stage and are now key elements of the everyday lives of the cast and crew.

During a media call last week, McCune told the Star Observer that thought-provoking and socially-daring roles in productions such as The King and I and the LGBTI play 8 are part of what drives her personally forward not only as a contemporary actress but as a person as well.

In talking about her involvement with both productions, McCune also made reference to the fact that truly great theatre not only reflected society in general, but promoted honest and frank discussions within it as well.

“You know what I thought was so fascinating about that? It just had such a great reading and I didn’t know where that particular argument was at, particularly in the US,” she said.

“I learnt a lot doing that piece and I think that a lot of people who saw it did as well. It created so much discussion, even in readings, where we’d do it and go, ‘yeah, we hadn’t really thought about that argument’.

“So it was a real eye-opener, and that’s what theatre is and how it developed in some ways, as we are a mirror of society and we are also there to educate it in some ways as well.”

McCune also declared that while she didn’t know what she was going to be doing after the current run of The King and I ended at the Sydney Opera House in November, she would love to revisit LGBTI-related productions such as 8 again if another such opportunity arose.

The King and I will be at the Lyric Theatre (QPAC) in Brisbane from April 13, the Princess Theatre in Melbourne from June 10 and the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House from September 9. Tickets via http://thekingandimusical.com.au/tickets/

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