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Choi Jeong-won acts as Frida Kahlo

Posted February. 17, 2022 07:39,   

Updated February. 17, 2022 07:39


Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907∼1954) lived a life full of pain and suffering. Frida contracted polio at six years old, which gave her a limp. At the age of 18, she suffered an accident, which gave her a lifelong pain and caused her to undergo 33 surgeries. But actor Choi Jeong-won eval‎uated the artist’s life differently: “Frida Kahlo said, ‘nothing is worth more than laughter.’ She lived a life like it was a festival, rather than struggling with pain.”

At the meeting with The Dong-A Ilbo on February 7 at a café in southern Seoul, Choi spoke eagerly about the Mexican artist, who she will perform in a musical “Frida” set to hit the stage on March 1. The work is an original musical about Frida Kahlo’s last moment before death. In the play, Frida reminisces about her life as a guest of a show titled, “The Last Night Show.”

“This work exhibits Frida’s energetic and joyous spirit, portraying her as a humorous person,” Choi said. “In fact, Frida wrote in her diary that she ‘lives to laugh,’ and ‘anguish and pain are ridiculous thing.’”

The artist loved herself, which is evidenced by the fact that one-third of her works are self-portraits. Like Frida, Choi merrily commented on the wrinkles on her face, saying, “it is a testament to my life, and I think [my wrinkles] are beautiful.”

Choi made a debut 33 years ago at a musical “Guys and Dolls.” Although her role was ‘Girl 6,’ with a single line, “Let’s go, Adelaid[!],” Choi cried her eyes out in every curtain call, and soon there were fans cheering for Choi.

Choi never skipped a year without performing on the stage, except for one year after giving birth to her child. To her, the cancellation of the musical “Mamma Mia!” where she was casted as Donna, due to the outbreak of the pandemic, was devastating.

“It felt as though my whole life was taken away. I persisted that I would perform without pay. Tears came down like waterfall, as though someone had died,” Choi said.

Diego Rivera, a prominent Mexican painter, was Frida’s lover and friend. Diego had various extramarital affairs, among whom included Frida’s sister, even when Frida had a miscarriage. That said, Frida wrote about him in her diary and drew him in paintings until right before she died. Choi said first she could not understand Frida but soon changed her mind when she thought about the stage.

“I imagined, ‘what if someone had tied my arms and legs and stopped me from performing on the stage?’ I would’ve still acted, even seeing my reflection in the mirror hanging above the ceiling, crying, and laughing,” the actress said. “What Diego means to Frida, it is the stage for me.”

Ji-Hoon Lee easyhoon@donga.com