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Actor Lee Jong-hyuk plays Julian Marsh in ‘42nd Street’

Actor Lee Jong-hyuk plays Julian Marsh in ‘42nd Street’

Posted December. 14, 2022 07:59,   

Updated December. 14, 2022 07:59


“I was 41 years old when I was first cast for ‘42nd Street,’ and now I am 48.” Actor Lee Jong-hyuk, who has been starring in "42nd Street" for five seasons since 2016, appeared nostalgic. “I used to think that people would be bored by the same actor starring one work again and again. Now I no longer think so,” Lee said. “I am beginning to feel like I am becoming more and more identified with Julian Marsh. I am grateful for the audience who have consistently supported the show.”

“42nd Street” is set during the Great Depression in the 1930s in New York. Peggy Sawyer, an aspiring actress, meets Julian Marsh, a renowned director, and rises to stardom. Since its premiere in Korea in 1996, the musical has been a long-running, show-biz musical for its tap dance, swing jazz music, and dazzling group dance.

“Now that I have played Marsh for such a long time, I have grown more insightful about the narrative aspects of the musical,” Lee said. “It has an element of black comedy that shows the shadows of Broadway during the Great Depression. It would be an honor to have a chance one day to direct ‘42nd Street’ from my perspective.”

Julian Marsh is a renowned producer of Broadway, who sees the dark side of Broadway, unlike Peggy Sawyer, an optimistic would-be actress. Marsh is pressured by sponsors backing the show about story and casting and even gets involved with Mafia.

“I try to highlight the dark side of Marsh. Sawyer’s mindless passion may become annoying for Marsh, who knows the reality,” Lee said. “Although the musical ends happily, with Sawyer rising to fame, I wanted to convey a sense of weariness felt by Marsh as a director.”

Graduated from the Dramatic Arts Department of the Seoul Institute of Arts, Lee debuted in 1997 with his first theater piece, “The Threepenny Opera,” and starred in various movies, including “Once Upon a Time in High School,” and many TV dramas, including “The Slave Hunters” and “A Gentleman’s Dignity.”

“I think the stage is my source of power as an actor,” he said. “The saying that ‘the actor gains his energy from the audience’ sounds like a cliché but a fact. I am energized by the audience's applause at the curtain call, feeling that I have lived my day to the fullest.”

The play will be on the stage at the CJ Towol Theater, Seoul Arts Center, until January 5, 2023. The ticket is sold at 70,000 won to 140,000 won.

Ji-Hoon Lee easyhoon@donga.com