ENTERTAINMENT

Late songwriter remembered in pop musical

By Kirsty Taylor
  • Published : Jan 27, 2011 - 19:48
  • Updated : Jan 27, 2011 - 19:48
‘Gwanghwamun Younga’ features songs by Lee Young-hoon, whose work is enjoying a revival


Late composer Lee Young-hoon, known for working with ballad singer Lee Moon-sae for more than 20 years, will have his dream posthumously fulfilled in the upcoming musical “Gwanghwamun Younga.” 
Actors cast for the musical “Gwanghwamun Younga” at a press call in Seoul on Monday. From left are Yoon Do-hyun, Song Chang-eui, Lisa Chung, Kim Moo-yeol and Lim Byung-geun. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

While fiercely fighting colon cancer, Lee put in every effort to complete the synopsis about a sad love triangle and tell it though the jukebox musical based on his popular songs. He died in February 2008.

Although the work initiated in 2004 was left uncompleted, Lee’s friends and colleagues, including celebrities and big names in musicals, continued to work on the project.

Now they are ready to stage it at the Grand Theater of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Gwanghwamun on March 20, following the composer’s wish that the show be staged in Gwanghwamun.

“To fulfill his dreams, our production staff worked really hard. With the actors start practicing each of his songs starting Feb. 1, his dream will come true day by day,” said Kim Seung-hyun, co-producer of “Gwanghwamun Younga” and Lee’s long-time friend, at a press call. Co-producer Lim Young-kun, who was also Lee’s close friend, said the late composer’s work forms about one third of the synopsis.

“I will show my inner side of ‘feminine sensitivity’ through this musical. Although I have a rough, masculine vocal which you may think wouldn’t fit ballads, I will beat that idea,’” said rock musician Yoon Do-hyun, who has been double cast as main character Sang-hun of the past, with actor Song Chang-eui.
Singer Yoon Do-hyun, who has been cast as the Sang-hun of the past for the musical “Gwanghwamun Younga,” performs during a press call in Seoul on Monday. (Gwanghwamun Younga)

Although there have been several attempts to create a Korean musical based on K-pop songs, there was no musical that had songs from one composer.

It will be the first time in the history of Korean musicals to stage a jukebox musical with a single composer’s songs, the organizers said.

Mostly sung by Lee Moon-sae in the 1980s and 1990s, composer Lee’s songs recently became popular again, as many young K-pop singers have released remake versions.

Popular K-pop singers such as Sung Si-kyung, Lee Seung-chul, Clazziquai, SG Wannabe and Yoon Do-hyun participated in composer Lee’s last 2-CD album, “Yetsarang” (Old Love) in 2006 and 2007.

Boy band Big Bang’s popular remake “Bulgeun Noeul” (Red Sunset) has exposed the younger generation of Koreas the great co-works of Lee Young-hoon and Lee Moon-sae.

To attract a young audience, the production team cast 21-year-old Yang Yo-seob, the lead singer of boy band BEAST, for the role of Ji-yong, the son of main characters Hyeon-woo and Yeo-ju.

“Composer Lee once said he wished his songs could be widely known to teenagers as well. I hope Yang Yo-seob can attract many more audiences,” said director Lee Gi-na, directors of hit musicals “Daejanggeum,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and “Grease.”

“Gwanghwamun Younga” starts with a dialogue between Sang-hun of the present and Ji-yong. While talking about a song called “Yetsarang,” Sanghun tries to bring up his memory about the song and the scene changes to the Gwanghawmun streets of the 1980s.

From then on, three charactors Sanghun, his brother Hyeon-woo and Yeo-ju tell a story of their love triangle, interwined with protests for democracy in Korea in the 1980s.

“As the Sejong Theater is quite big for a musical, we will tell the story in two big scenes ― the past generation and the present generation. It will be a multi-layered structure,” director Lee said.

Powerful vocalist Lisa Chung has been single cast as Yeoju, while actors Kim Moo-yeol and Lim Byung-geun will play Hyeon-woo. Actor Park Jeong-hwan will play the Sang-hun of the present.

“Gwanghwamun Younga,” based on 33 song’s by composer Lee, will run from March 20 to April 10 at the Grand Theater of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 130,000 won. For details, call 1666-8662.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)