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This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre – The SOUTH PACIFIC Edition!


They are part of the Dream Team – the Australian cast of SOUTH PACIFIC so perfectly composed that their Sydney production of Bartlett Sher's Lincoln Center revival brought Oscar Hammerstein's grandson to tears, and has since been chosen as the version of the record-breaking stage show to be immortalised on DVD.

Three multi-talented performers with a host of stage, screen and recording credits between them, Daniel Koek, Eddie Perfect and Kate Ceberano are currently starring in the Melbourne season of SOUTH PACIFIC, after premiering the production to critical aclaim at the Sydney Opera House in August. 

Daniel Koek has extensive theatre credits in the UK and is a veteran of SOUTH PACIFIC, having lent his stunning tenor to the role of Lieutenant Cable on the West End and across the UK before reprising the role here in Australia. Eddie Perfect who eats up the stage as Seabee Luther Billis is a performer and award-winning writer/composer who is also much-loved for his portrayal of Mick Holland on the hit TV show OFFSPRING. And then there is Kate Ceberano, the ARIA winning, Platinum recording artist who so embodies Bloody Mary on stage that she is both pitch perfect and barely recognisable in the role.

Together with Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes and a stellar supporting cast, they form the constellation that has made SOUTH PACIFIC the critical and audience hit of the year. In the first of a two part series celebrating the Australian production of SOUTH PACIFIC we take a look at Daniel, Eddie and Kate's brains on musical theatre – enjoy!!

This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre – The SOUTH PACIFIC Edition!

Is there a particular show and/or person that first made you feel like 'this is what I want to do'?

Daniel: That's simple ... Anthony Warlow singing Phantom Of The Opera in Adelaide. My mum took me when I was about 9!

Eddie: I didn't think performing on stage in any professional sense was even within the realms of possibility for me until maybe 1999. I've always loved music theatre as an art form since I was a young kid. We used to play tapes of Sweeney Todd and Pirates of Penzance in our Combi Van during long family car-trips to camping destinations around Victoria. But for some reason I never considered it as a career. I wanted to be a visual artist. But since I discovered I didn't have much to communicate through my art, and since music was such a big part of my life, I went to study classical music at Melbourne University Conservatorium. I found that a pretty stifling place, performance-wise, so I auditioned for WAAPA and got in and it literally changed my life. It's gradual steps with me. Writing, composing, performing, stand-up comedy; all of it has been incremental and nothing like what I ever dreamed I'd end up doing.

Kate: I first saw Shirley MacLaine in Irma la Douce and thought she was magical, whimsical and beautiful! I wanted to be all those things ... the fact that she was a French prostitute in green fishnet stockings was no deterrent apparently! Red flag to a bull!

Can you remember the moment when you first understood that you could sing the way most others can't?

Daniel: I went to a school that specialised in music so I guess I worked out that I could hold a tune when I kept getting all the solo lines when I performed with the concert choir!

Eddie: I used to have an amazing tenor voice before I went through puberty. It was really something. My voice broke and it was a matter of piecing it back together from scratch, getting to know this new instrument I'd woken up with one day. It was a long journey. I've never been too fussed with the quality of the sound (as you can probably tell) but more with how expressive it can be, how musical it can be, and how I can use it to create character and act through it. There are a million people with pretty voices, but I'm more interested in acting through song, directly communicating with an audience and "selling" a lyric. Music theatre lives or dies by the quality of its lyrics. Also, being a composer/lyricist I mostly perform my own songs and 99% of what I'm obsessed with is clarity. That's my little prayer before I go on stage each night: be clear, trust the material, communicate, take your time, let it go. I think I've gotten good at that and I think that's what my strengths are, really. Continued next page.

Kate: Sitting on a fallen tree across a creek with my girlfriends at Uncle Henry's farm. I was singing Kate Bush "The Man With A Child In His Eyes" and my best friend said, "Wow Kate, you can actually sing!" It had never occurred to me that this was an exclusive thing. Couldn't everybody sing? (Just quietly I think everyone can). Whether they can make a living out of it is a completely different thing!

Is there one night in your career that you would love to go back to and experience over again?

Daniel: The day that my parents and 80-year-old grandparents finally got to see me perform professionally in the Sydney Opera House ... Sunday 19th of August is the day to remember!

Eddie: I don't know if I'd ever like to repeat an experience - no matter how great - it'd kill it for me. Things are good because they're fleeting. The night that probably tops it for me in terms of amazing theatrical experiences would be opening night of Shane Warne The Musical at the Athenaeum, Melbourne, December 10th 2008. It was three years of writing and fighting - endless meetings, castings, re-writes, workshops - we went through every possible hardship including the death of my very good friend and musical director Will Poskitt and still made it to opening night. Shane Warne himself attended and came out on stage and took a bow. To see that happen as a result of a tiny and potentially idiotic idea on the inside my brain coming to life was an exceptional moment. Ideas are what lead everything. If you have an idea and you work hard enough, with enough passion and tenacity, you can see it come to full living breathing life before your eyes.

Kate: Singing downtown New York as a fill in for a girl who corpsed it during the intro to "Someone To Watch Over Me". My new friend, the host of the night, hadn't actually heard me sing and in a panic she screamed ..."Help!" I took to the stage, calmly turned to the pianist (a jazz legend as it happens) ask for Skylark in the key of G ... Don't come in till the middle 8, and as I quietly began the crowd hushed itself into submission. When the band hit that first chord "and in your lonely flight" ... the place erupted! I was thrilled. My brother was my witness and my girlfriend shouted us free drinks all night!!!!! Unforgettable!

Is there one role that belongs to the opposite gender or a different age group that you'd secretly love to perform?

Daniel: Hmm would love to perform the role of Elphaba in Wicked if I was a girl - LOL!!! "So if you care to find me ... look to the Western Sky!!!" … lol!

Eddie: Not really. I don't think in those terms. I'd love to perform a Sondheim piece at some point in my life just because he is my personal hero. My passion lies with new work - so I'm sure there's something waiting out there I've never considered.

Kate: I've always wanted to perform Carmen but I'm too old now :(

Stay tuned for more Daniel, Eddie and Kate in part two of This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre – The SOUTH PACIFIC Edition – coming soon!


Opera Australia & John Frost presents The Lincoln Center Theatre Production of

SOUTH PACIFIC by Rodgers & Hammerstein

Princess Theatre, Melbourne – to November 25th, 2012

Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane – from December 27th

For tickets and further information visit

Images: Jeff Busby

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