With both countries joining hands, will this send a message of hope to the Korean musical scene?
The musical [Tears of Heaven], which opens from the first of next month in the Haeorum Theatre at The National Theatre of Korea, is the most highly anticipated piece of work in 2011. The planning period itself took 3 years. The production cost was also more than 5 billion won. Composer Frank Wildhorn, producer Gabriel Berry and famous Broadway creators have been involved. What’s unique is that the team and overseas creative team is made up of people who come from 5 different countries, like the United States, Britain and the Czech Republic.
The setting for [Tears of Heaven] is the Vietnam War. There is also a larger picture beyond the love triangle involving a Vietnamese girl, a Korean soldier and an American general. From the planning stage, they were already targeting global expansion.
What’s also out of the norm, is that the soundtrack was released before the opening performance. It is becoming a hot topic that one of the world’s finest musical actors Brad Little (47), and Kim Junsu (24), who is evolving as a musical actor, will be standing on the same stage.
◆[Jealous of Kim Junsu] = A foreign actor appearing in a musical produced in Korea? This is another unusual point about [Tears of Heaven]. Brad Little will take on the role of the American general. The intention was to portray it as realistically as possible and because he is Brad Little, he was chosen without any objection.
Brad Little has undertaken the role of the lead in more than 2,200 performances of [The Phantom of the Opera] and he is also of the most leading Broadway actors of the highest standard. The full volume of his voice and the rich, appealing power of the colour of his tone makes hearts tremble. He has also secured a large fanbase through his participation in [The Phantom of the Opera] in 2005 and [Jenkyll and Hyde] in 2009.
The interview with Little and Kim Junsu was held on the 10th, at the Seoul Namsan Arts Center. Such a question was asked, “As the language is different, are there any difficulties with communicating?”
Kim Junsu replied, “It’s the same as the Korean soldier who was dispatched to Vietnam and didn’t have a good grasp of English. Although it is somewhat lacking, I did it comfortably with the thought that it would be more natural this way.” Little replied, “There’s no problem at all during production. In all honesty, it is a little inconvenient in the process of working. However, the tension that comes from the differences in languages and culture is what motivates me. It’s also interesting to learn random “konglish” (English mixed with Korean). After this, I’d still like to take part in a Korean musical.”
Making his debut in 1988 in [Anything Goes], Little is a veteran with 23 years of experience under his belt. In contrast, although Kim Junsu has enjoyed the highest form of popularity in Asia as a member of TVXQ, he is still a rookie as this is only his second musical after being casted for [Mozart!] last year. Won’t there be a difference?
Little shook his head and said, “My jealousy for (Kim Junsu’s) completely passionate performance showed.” He said, “He’s excellent in pulling in the females, to the extent that I want to imitate him.”Kim Junsu replied, “It’s a great honour just to stand on the same stage as Little, who I’ve only seen on videos (until now).” He clarified, “(Little) is very serious even with the small parts and doesn’t take it lightly. When he’s acting angry, even the practice room becomes cold. Intense energy gushes out and I can feel myself sucked into his acting. His voice, (noticing) his partner’s breathing, even how he manages his health, I want to emulate all of that.”
◆[I want to watch over that authenticity] = Little seems to have become half Korean himself. He said, “Kimbap (seaweed rice rolls), kimchijeon (kimchi pancakes) and bulgogi (marinated beef) are really delicious.” He is also aware that he is given the nickname “Bread ahjusshi (uncle)” in Korea because of the similar pronunciation of his name to the English word “bread”.
As expected, the key to good singing is still something to be anxious about. “I’ll read the lyrics over and over again. From there, a unique rhythm is born. From there, I attach the melody of the song (to it). How well you sing it, how you tell the story, will show the charm of the musical number. He also hinted that for his next musical, he would love to do [The Man of La Mancha].
Through 15 performances of [Mozart!], Kim Junsu has sold out 45,000 tickets. This time too, his ticket power remained the same. Towards the end of last year, during the first round of ticket sales, a record was born when he sold out 10,000 tickets in just 5 minutes from the start of ticket sales.
One can also see that he is completely immersed in musicals. “The energy and emotions from musicals set my heart aflame with delight. Not being myself, transforming into another person; and not just acting, but singing and dancing, the actions and behaviours are all taken into consideration together and because of this, musicals embrace all the different aspects of the arts.”
He also clearly answered the difference from singing (as a singer). “Previously, we had to show our abilities when we sing a song, but in doing musicals, I’m learning how important the virtue of ‘moderation’ is.”
Kim Junsu used the word “authenticity” many times. “I’ve dreamed of being a musical actor since my childhood. Although I’m still lacking, I want to be recognized as a musical actor. I’m concentrating on carrying through authenticity and love in the musical. I want to show that I have made progress.”