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An Explosive Performance That Blows Down the Barriers of the Heart

An Explosive Performance That Blows Down the Barriers of the Heart

Posted July. 19, 2004 22:25,   


What if there was another me inside myself, an evil monster that I could not control…?

The musical “Jekyll & Hyde,” which will make its Korean debut on July 24, starkly contrasts the good and evil, light and dark that coexist within the human self. Adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella and sweetened with a heartstring-tugging love story, “Jekyll & Hyde” blends unforgettable songs like “Once Upon a Dream” with a solid dramatic plot. During its Korean run, the show will feature actor Cho Seung-woo (24) as the eponymous duo-in-one, and musical star Choi Jung-won (35) in the role of Lucy, a dancer who loves Jekyll but dies at the hands of his evil counterpart, Hyde. Ryu Jeong-han and Sonya have been double-cast alongside Cho and Choi for the leads.

July 16: The basement rehearsal hall of the OD Musical Company, located in Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. I began to see why “Jekyll & Hyde” has been hailed as “the most beautiful musical thriller.” Both music and story exuded an earnest strength as Cho Seung-woo and Choi Jung-won poured all of their energies into their singing and made the walls of the rehearsal space reverberate. In the scene where Jekyll and Hyde confront each other, Cho expressed the anguish and desperation of the two characters by singing in two contrasting timbres. Cho and Choi immersed themselves in their roles body and soul, despite the fact that they were only in rehearsal, and their passionate performances generated a thrill that blew away the heat and lethargy of the summer day.

The rehearsal, which was as intense as a battle, ended around 10:00 p.m. The seemingly exhausted actors perked up, with eyes gleaming, when they began to discuss the show.

Choi: I saw “Jekyll & Hyde” for the first time in 1998, in New York, and it gave me goose bumps all over. I saw it seven times in a row. It moved me even more because I encountered it as I was nearing the age of thirty, plagued with conflicted thoughts about life and acting. Afterwards, I got my hands on the score, and practically memorized all the lines. Every person has an instinctive side and a rational side. It makes me think about how I would live my life if I were transformed into something like Hyde. I think that for a male thespian, Jekyll and Hyde is the most attractive and challenging role.

Cho: This is my sixth musical, and at the end of every song, I wish that someone would get me hooked up to an oxygen tank. We get through 15 grueling, tumultuous numbers! But I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass; I thought, when will I have the same chance again? I believe that it’s important to urge the audience to examine themselves through this character, who harbors both light and dark in ways even he isn’t aware of.

Choi: This is the twentieth for me, but each show feels like it’s my first. I’m getting more and more apprehensive: back when I started, I used to try and stand out, thinking the only thing that mattered was the level of my own performance, but now I find myself worrying about everyone else’s performances as well.

Cho: I’ve followed your shows since I was a freshman at Gyewon High School for the Arts. I’ve always wanted to perform on the same stage with you, so it’s an honor for me just to be here. In rehearsal, I can feel something from you even when you’re not speaking a word. And I say to myself, so that’s what they call inner strength.

Choi: It’s our first meeting on the stage, but we do go way back. In 1995, when I was doing “Singing in the Rain,” Nam Kyung-eup came up to me and showed me a picture of a student of his that he described ecstatically as “a great one,” and that turned out to be… (laughs). I know you work predominantly in movies, but it would be great to have a talented actor like yourself on the stage more often.

Cho: I ended up debuting in a movie, after dreaming of a career on the musical stage. Now, I want to do well in both genres. Even if that proves difficult. For me, the most exhilarating moment in the show is when I turn into Hyde for the first time. It feels like a hole is being blown open in my heart, and I want to share that explosive feeling with the audience.

Choi: Actors never work alone when they’re onstage. They breathe with the audience. People say that when an actor gets nervous, a veteran performs beyond his or her normal abilities, whereas an amateur falls below. Let’s do this one like old pros.

July 24-August 21. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Wednesdays and Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Sundays at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The COEX Auditorium in Samseong-dong, Seoul. (Tel) 02-556-8556

Mi-Seok Koh mskoh119@donga.com