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Lisa McCune tells: Marriage, motherhood and musicals

Monday, March 31, 2008

By Glen Williams

Pictures: Gina Millicia

The popular actress talks about the pleasures and pitfalls of being our no.1 girl next door.

It's hard to imagine a time when Sea Patrol's Lisa McCune wasn't on our TV screens and winning TV Week Logies. Currently taking to the stage to star in the all-singing, all-dancing Guys And Dolls, a warm and candid Lisa talks to Woman's Day about love, parenting and the occasional need for a hissy fit!

Why Guys And Dolls?
It's by the Donmar people. The Donmar Warehouse in London are the people who put Cabaret together. Their approach to their work is terrific. These are actor-driven pieces; it's logical and it's not just a matter of getting up and singing a song for the sake of it. The characters sing songs for a reason, and I love that.

What's your favourite song?
I love If I Were A Bell. My character Sarah goes to Havana and has a few too many "milkshakes" and gets a bit whoopsie.

Are you drawing on your own experience for that?
[Laughs.] No! I've never been drunk before in my life! It's a really great sequence for her. I'm having so much fun. Loving working with Ian as well.
I adore Garry's song Sue Me. It's beautiful. It's the way he does it. He's just magical.

Does it blow you away the impact Maggie Doyle and Blue Heelers had on the Australian TV audience?
We still talk about it and it is such a long time ago now. I've moved so far beyond that now, but I'm so appreciative of that time. It was a wonderful six years of my life and I made some very dear friends out of it. It was a very significant chunk of my life. I started there in '93, '94. Five solid years of shooting 42 episodes a year, which was a lot of TV. We worked very long and hard hours.

Do you think you're a better actor now?
Yes. I've learned a lot more. And I think I have more life experience.

Who are your heroes?
On screen I adore Alan Rickman, Tilda Swinton, and I think Cate Blanchett is extraordinary. I think also Garry McDonald and Marina Prior — who is such an incredible singer and a capable actress and mover — and Magda. We are dripping in talent in this country. We are. I love Lorraine Bayley. She's a wonderful actor and a beautiful lady. I used to look at her as Grace Sullivan when I was a child; I loved her demeanour and her beauty. She was so loved, she is just so great ... and the fact that we believed, wholly and solely, that she was the mother of that family.

Can you imagine what course your life may have taken if Maggie Doyle didn't come along?
I may have gone and worked on the other side of the camera if I hadn't had as much work as I've had. I still might.

When did you last cry?
The other day at rehearsals. Ian Stenlake has this beautiful song, My Time Of Day, and it's the song that Sky Masterson sings when he's trying to make my character, Sarah, understand why he likes the night. It's beautiful and moving, and I cried. It was gorgeous.

Guys And Dolls opens at Melbourne's Princess Theatre on March 28. Sea Patrol II: The Coup premieres Monday, March 31, at 8:30pm on the Nine Network.

For more of this interview, see this week's Woman's Day (on sale March 31).

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