Amid the growing interest in musicals based on hit movies, several musical versions of movies and TV dramas will be staged this year. Smash-hit Korean movies including "Singles," "Love, So Divine," "My Love My Bride" and "Old Miss Diary" will revisit audiences on stages in the coming months.
The musical "Innocent Steps" began its three-month run yesterday at the Baekam Art Hall in Samsung-dong, southern Seoul. It runs through July 1.
It has received much media attention because it features Eugene, a former member of popular girl group S.E.S and now a TV actress.
Eugene debuted in 1997 as a member of S.E.S, and has more recently become a successful TV actress. She has also tried film acting, with a leading role in upcoming film "Unstoppable Marriage," which is scheduled to be released in April.
<**1>"I always wanted to do musicals. But I was hesitant because I wasn`t sure I had what it took. Now I will do my best with this musical," said Eugene during a news conference held at the Baekam Art Hall in Samsung-dong on Wednesday.
"I am still clumsy at acting on the stage because it is my first theatrical experience. But I am enjoying myself more than I expected," she said.
In "Innocent Steps," Eugene plays Chae-rin, a Korean-Chinese girl who comes to Seoul on a residence visa issued through a fake marriage. As part of the deal, Chae-rin is forced to learn dancing for a national competition under the guidance of her husband Young-se, a frustrated professional dancer.
The musical, like the film, portrays the life of the pure Chae-rin, who falls in love with Young-se while learning to dance. The film version featured popular teen star Moon Geun-young and actor Park Gun-hyung. It was fairly successful, with over 2.2 million viewers in 2005, when the film was released.
Speculation is mounting over whether both Eugene`s debut on stage and the musical will be successful.
"(Even though it is her stage debut), Eugene`s image as an innocent person goes well with the character of Chae-rin," said Yang So-jung, who is sharing the role of Chae-rin with Eugene.
However, the jury is still out on the musical itself, which failed to amuse audiences with its not-so-exuberant Latin dances during a preview held on Wednesday, the day before the musical started its three-month run.
It was obvious that the actors were trying their best, but their inability to dance and unstable vocals were major problems.
Lee Gun-kuk, the musical`s choreographer, said he only had two and half months to train the actors, while it typically takes at least two or three years to make someone a professional dancer. Perhaps, but the bottom line is that the musical is full of complicated dance scenes that highlight, rather than disguise, the performers` flaws.
It remains to be seen how audiences will respond to the mistakes that the performers, most of whom are supposed to be portraying professional dancers, make during a show that is supposed to be filled with passionate dancing.
Tickets are all 50,000 won. Call (02) 3446-3075 for more information.
By Cho Chung-un