Jo Litson, The Sunday Telegraph, reports
Never having been in a musical before, Gyton Grantley admits he felt a bit out of his depth when he did his first audition for Opera Australia's South Pacific.
"I could only say it was an experience,'' he says with a laugh. "I'd come into the audition with a fair idea of how I was going to sing the song and that was completely wrong, not what they wanted, so there were quite a few adjustments. I guess it was the most vulnerable I'd ever felt in an audition, it was terrifying. But to my surprise they asked me to audition again.''
He did the second one via Skype with his iPad propped up on the barbecue in his parent's Brisbane backyard where the internet signal was strongest. Neighbours began calling to ask about the crazy American shouting in the garden.
To his delight, Grantley landed the role of comic rogue Luther Billis - the wheeling-dealing sailor who is forever on the make but also hopelessly devoted to nurse Nellie Forbush.
Taking over from Eddie Perfect, Grantley received glowing reviews when he performed in the Brisbane season in January.
Now he is to play Billis when OA's acclaimed production, starring Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, returns to Sydney by popular demand.
Grantley is best known for his television work, notably his Logie Award-winning performance as convicted killer and drug trafficker Carl Williams in Underbelly and, more recently, as the gay, gentle Kane in House Husbands.
He will be reprising both roles. In January, he begins shooting the third season of House Husbands. Right now, he is filming Fat Tony & Co - "hence the 15kg I've put on during the last few months'', he says. Fat Tony & Co follows on from the first season of Underbelly. Focusing on Tony Mokbel, it covers Melbourne's gangland wars from 1996 to 2011 and includes Williams' murder in jail in 2010.
Meanwhile, Grantley is enjoying South Pacific so much he's keen to do another musical. "Never before have I felt such a wonderful sense of community as in the world of musical theatre. It's a real family," he says. "But I'm lucky that Billis is mostly an acting part and when I'm required to sing and dance I am supported by the entire ensemble."
South Pacific, Sydney Opera House, September 8 - November 2. Bookings: 9250 7777