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The Making of ‘Rebecca’

Star-studded cast of Michael Kunze’s musical shares behind-the-scenes stories

Losing weight and getting facials were what it took the three men to play the leading role of “Rebecca,” one of the most anticipated musicals in the first half of the year.

“This is a role that requires wearing suits all the time,” said actor Yoo Jun-sang, who is sharing the role of an English aristocratic widower with actors Oh Man-seok and Ryu Jung-han.

“And you have to look good in them. So I can’t eat too much. Otherwise I wouldn’t look so good.”

It’s been more than a week since the opening of the musical, which is already receiving rave reviews from the public and the local press. Written by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, the suspenseful musical is an adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 gothic novel of the same title. Kunze and Levay are well-known figures in Korea, as some of their other works, “Elisabeth” and “Mozart!” enjoyed wide popularity here last year.
Musical actress Oak Ju-hyun performs in the musical “Rebecca.” (EMK Musical)
Musical actress Oak Ju-hyun performs in the musical “Rebecca.” (EMK Musical)

With much humor and great enthusiasm, the star-studded cast of the musical met with reporters on Thursday and shared their experience in making the show. The three actors are sharing the role of a widower whose memory of Rebecca, his beautiful dead wife, keeps haunting him and his new bride. Yoo, Oh and Ryu constantly made fun of themselves throughout the media conference, in their efforts to praise each other.

“Oh, I really had to see a dermatologist and get some facials,” said Ryu Jung-han. “As you can see, these two fellows are just so good-looking. I wanted to be at least presentable compared to these two.”

Meanwhile, musical actress Oak Ju-hyun is making her first foray into villain’s territory with this noir musical. She plays Mrs. Danvers, a housekeeper who is obsessed with the memory of the widower’s dead wife.

During the press rehearsal on Thursday, Oak captivated the audience with her performance as the housekeeper, who tries to kill the widower’s new lover.

For Oak, whose previous roles include the princess-turned-slave Aida and the beautiful yet tragic empress Elisabeth, playing Mrs. Danvers was a fun challenge. “Mrs. Danvers is a supporting role, but her presence is very distinct throughout the show,” Oak told reporters.

“I personally really enjoyed reading the original novel by Daphne Du Maurier. The book made me really want to be a part of this musical, and allowed me to understand this character. The way I walk, speak and act as Mrs. Danvers is in fact inspired by the book.”

Du Maurier’s 1938 novel was made into its famous film adaptation in 1940, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

“The modern stage and technology allow us to create something that is much more cinematic,” said Robert Johanson, the artistic director of the show.

“I think the people who have seen the movie will not be disappointed when they see a play that flows just like the movie. So we hope the audience will be satisfied including those who loved the movie or the novel. But it definitely is wonderful to get to hear people singing in addition ― that’s one thing that they don’t get in the book or in the film.”

“Rebecca” runs until March 31 at LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1555.

By Claire Lee (