The Korea Herald


Pop diva to star in musical ‘Cats’


Published : Aug. 31, 2011 - 19:47

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Insooni to play the famous cat Grizabella along with Park Hae-mi and Hong Ji-min

Korea’s diva Insooni is certainly a multitasker. And an amazing one.

On top of singing the theme song for the IAAF World Championships in Daegu and appearing on MBC TV’s “I Am a Singer,” (better known as “Nagasu”) the 54-year-old singer is once again coming back to the musical scene this month as Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary musical “Cats.”

Dressed in a chic black and white print dress with a her trademark hairstyle of puffy white top and closely shaved sides, Insooni seemed rather relaxed despite what must be a very hectic schedule.

“All the good opportunities always come at once,” Insooni told reporters at a press meeting in Jamsil, southern Seoul, Wednesday.

“I think there is right timing for everything, and I felt like I’d regret if I don’t do this now for both ‘Nagasu’ and ‘Cats.’ I felt there may be no second chances. It’s better to regret after trying than regretting that you never tried.”

“Cats,” which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is the second longest-running show in Broadway history. Based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot, the musical was first performed in Korea in 1994, and was a hit in 2003, 2007 and 2008. Its famous song, “Memory,” is one of the highly anticipated numbers of the upcoming show. 
Singer Insooni during a press conference promoting her upcoming musical, “Cats,” in Jamsil, southern Seoul, Wednesday. (Seol & Company) Singer Insooni during a press conference promoting her upcoming musical, “Cats,” in Jamsil, southern Seoul, Wednesday. (Seol & Company)

For Insooni, this is her second musical ever ― she performed in “Chicago” in 2009. But her music career goes all the way back to 1978, the year she debuted.

“As a singer you are always alone,” Insooni told reporters. “You practice alone, put makeup alone, and perform alone on the stage. But for musicals, you are bound to work with others. You exchange opinions, eat together, laugh together and make a show together. I think that really drew me into musicals.”

Her character Grizabella is a very old cat who used to be carefree, proud and flamboyant. When she was young and beautiful, Grizabella left her home tribe to explore the outside world ― knowing that she would never be allowed back. She tries to reconcile with the people she left, asking for their acceptance once again.

“To be honest, I thought I’d just have to sing the famous song ‘Memory,’” Insooni said.

“But I realized how philosophical this piece was as I learned more about it while practicing. The ‘Cats’ I interpret is about forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing.”

Having to sing in a heavy costume and makeup, Insooni said there are some challenges that she didn’t expect.

“I have to shrink my body like a cat and it’s really had to reach a high note without fully stretching my back,” she said. “And because my eye makeup is really heavy, my eyeballs don’t show at all. So even when I am not supposed to open my eyes to the fullest extent, I still do so it doesn’t look like they are completely closed.”

When asked about how she manages to do so many things at once, Insooni said she is naturally physically strong and it helps her to do everything she does.

“I really enjoy what I do and feel grateful that I am alive for each moment,” the singer said. “So rather than feeling pressured or overwhelmed, I take joy in every opportunity that’s given to me.”

Sharing her role as “Grizabella” are musical actresses Hong Ji-min and Park Hae-mi. While Hong said her youth and diligence are her forte, Park said it is her “inner sexiness” that she thinks will wow the audience.

Insooni’s enthusiasm and positive spirit has been very inspirational during the practice sessions, the two actresses said.

“I once asked Insooni how she always manage to look happy all the time,” Hong told reporters. “And she told me, ‘To me, everyday is a Christmas day.’”

“Cats” runs from Sept. 17 till Dec. 31 at Charlotte Theater in Jamsil, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call (02) 1577-3363 or visit

By Claire Lee (