The West

Christine Anu and Lisa McCune in Perth. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Lisa McCune will make her Perth professional stage debut with Teddy Tahu Rhodes when the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific opens here on November 10.

McCune has had an extensive screen and stage career on the east coast since graduating from the WA Academy of Performing Arts and leaving her hometown in 1990.

The four-time Gold Logie winner and the operatic baritone Tahu Rhodes star as US Navy nurse Nellie and plantation boss Emile in the romance set on a tropical island during World War II.

"I am quite nervous about coming back because my singing teachers are here and everybody I grew up with," McCune said at the Perth launch of the four-week season at the Crown Theatre with cast member Christine Anu, who plays islander Bloody Mary.

"To come home is a big deal after such a long time," the former Blue Heelers and Sea Patrol star said.

The Opera Australia, John Frost and US Lincoln Center production toured Australia last year but is in hiatus while Tahu Rhodes performs with opera companies in the US, Russia and in the WA Opera production of Don Giovanni in July. South Pacific returns to Sydney in September before heading to Perth.

McCune, who is married with three children, and Tahu Rhodes have been dogged by rumours of an off-stage affair since being pictured in a public embrace last August.

Considered one of the great Broadway musicals, South Pacific won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950 and 10 Tony Awards.

Set on a tropical island during World War II.

The romantic story of two couples threatened by the realities of war, prejudice and racism was one of the first big musicals following World War II. It was based on James Mitchener's Tales of the South Pacific - a collection of short stories about World War II which he wrote in 1946.

Written by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, the score includes Some Enchanted Evening, I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, There Is Nothing Like A Dame and Bali Ha'I.

This production, directed by acclaimed Broadway director Bartlett Sheer, opened at the Lincoln Center in Washington in 2008 as the first US revival since the initial 1949 production.

The season at the Crown Theatre will mark the first full-scale performance by Opera Australia in Perth since it presented Rigoletto here 23 years ago.

The West Australian

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