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Cho Seung-woo, Jeong Sun-ah, 'SheStars!' win at Korea Musical Awards

By Park Ga-young

Published : Jan. 16, 2024 - 16:39

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Winners at the 8th Korea Musical Awards pose for photos at Kyung Hee University Grand Peace Palace on Monday. (Korea Musical Awards) Winners at the 8th Korea Musical Awards pose for photos at Kyung Hee University Grand Peace Palace on Monday. (Korea Musical Awards)

The creators and actors of “Memphis,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “If, Then” were recognized as the most accredited musicals, while the “failed” “SheStars!” was named best musical of the year at the eighth Korea Musical Awards that took place Monday evening.

Co-written by Kolleen Park and Jeon Su-yang and directed by Park, “SheStars!” traces back through various girl K-pop groups from the 1930s to 1970s.

“We failed tremendously, and yet we were incredibly happy,” Park said. “‘SheStars!’ reflects on the remarkable achievements of Korean girl groups, leading up to the existence of K-pop today,” the director added.

The best big production award, for productions with 400 seats and more, was given to “Memphis,” while original musical “L'art Reste” took best musical for under 400 seats.

Based on a true story, “Memphis” presents the fictionalized Huey Calhoun as one of the first white DJs in the US in the 1950s to play music by Black artists, and how his love for rock 'n' roll became the catalyst for a groundbreaking chapter in the history of US music.

"L'art Reste" explores the life of Kim Hyang-an (1916-2004), a woman who played a crucial role in shaping modern Korean culture, by highlighting her relationships with two influential figures of the time: her first husband, Yi Sang, a pioneer in modern Korean literature, and her second husband, Kim Whan-ki, a trailblazer in Korean monochrome painting, known as "dansaekhwa."

"L'art Reste" playwright Kim Han-sol took home the best script award while its music composers Moon Hye-seong and Chung Hye-ji were recognized with the best music award for an original work.

Cho Seung-woo, who took on a new role after seven years with “The Phantom of the Opera,” finally took home the best lead actor award, after four nominations.

“I made my debut in September 2000 in the musical ‘The Blood Brothers' at the small theater Hakchon. I learned a lot at Hakchon. Hakchon was the foundation of learning, a homelike place, and a place of memories. Kim Min-gi was my mentor, father, friend and the closest and most comfortable colleague. I dedicate all these honors to Hakchon and Kim Min-gi,” he said in the acceptance speech.

Hakchon Theater, an iconic venue that provided a stage for several hundreds of actors, was recognized for its contributions to the theater industry. Hakchon Theater was founded 33 years ago by singer-songwriter and CEO Kim Min-ki. It recently announced its closure, citing financial difficulties and Kim’s health issues, and supporters of the theater have been pushing to protect the iconic place.

Jeong Sun-ah received the award for best lead actress for her role in “If, Then.”

The new actor award went to baritone Kim Joo-taek, also known as Julian Kim, for his role as the phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera,” while Park Sae-him of “Interview” got the new actress award.

The supporting actor and actress awards were given to Kim Ho-young who performs Angel in “Rent” and Lee Arumsoul of “If, Then,” respectively.

The Korea Musical Awards, held annually in January, are organized by the Korea Musical Theatre Association and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Culture and Arts Council. For this year, candidates were selected from productions that premiered domestically between Dec. 5, 2022, and Dec. 3, 2023. Seventy-one works were submitted for consideration.

Musical Musical "SheStars!" (Seensee)

Cho Seung-woo, the winner of the award for best lead actor, poses for photos as he attends the 8th Korea Musical Awards at Kyung Hee University Grand Peace Palace on Monday. (Yonhap) Cho Seung-woo, the winner of the award for best lead actor, poses for photos as he attends the 8th Korea Musical Awards at Kyung Hee University Grand Peace Palace on Monday. (Yonhap)
Jeong Sun-ah, winner of the award for best lead actress, smiles at the Korea Musical Awards held at Kyung Hee University Grand Peace Palace on Monday. (Yonhap) Jeong Sun-ah, winner of the award for best lead actress, smiles at the Korea Musical Awards held at Kyung Hee University Grand Peace Palace on Monday. (Yonhap)