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[Herald Interview] Tei hopes to exceed expectations with dream role in 'Rebecca'

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Jan. 15, 2024 - 15:42

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Tei plays Maxim de Winter in the musical Tei plays Maxim de Winter in the musical "Rebecca." (EMK)

South Korean singer and actor Tei embarked on his journey as a ballad singer in 2003, leaving a strong impression on the public with chart-topping hits such as "Love Leaves Its Scent" and "Same Pillow."

Transitioning to musicals, Tei made his debut on the stage in 2012's "Sherlock Holmes.” His career has steadily continued with productions like "Gone With the Wind" (2018) and "Gwangju" (2020).

Recently, the 40-year-old actor took on the role of Maxim de Winter in the Korean production of the musical "Rebecca" in its seventh run. The show performed at Blue Square in Yongsan, central Seoul, from September to November last year, celebrating the musical's 10th anniversary.

The production kicked off its eighth (and an encore) season at the LG Arts Center on Dec. 14, 2023.

Tei (left) plays Maxim de Winter in the musical Tei (left) plays Maxim de Winter in the musical "Rebecca." (EMK)

Tei hopes that his role in the bestselling musical will be another breakthrough moment for him.

"When I step onto the stage, my wish is to raise the audience's expectation of 'actor Tei.' I have been on stage numerous times and I'm confident in my ability to deliver a strong performance. I hope there's an expectation that my acting will be impressive as well,” Tei said in an interview with a group of reporters on Jan. 9.

“I reckon there are still some concerns that outweigh the expectation. I still feel like a newbie in the musical industry. I aim to show that I'm an actor who exceeds expectations in my performances.”

Acknowledging both the merits and challenges of transitioning from a singer to a musical actor, Tei endeavors to overcome the distinctive voice associated with “singer Tei” during his stage performances.

"These days, the trend in musicals is to sing in a natural voice, but there are instances where my natural voice is perceived as if I were singing a pop song," he said.

"If I use operatic vocalization, it may sound different, but I want to express emotions and songs more naturally. Finding that middle ground and going through the process of comfortably producing the right sound was quite challenging."

Tei (left) plays Maxim de Winter in the musical Tei (left) plays Maxim de Winter in the musical "Rebecca." (EMK)

In "Rebecca," a musical adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 gothic novel, Maxim de Winter is a widower and wealthy aristocratic gentleman haunted by trauma after his wife's death.

Tei emphasized the significance of effectively conveying Maxim's hypocritical facets, concealing Maxim’s flaws to connect with the character and the audience.

"Musicals are ultimately a show, so the audience must feel entertained. The audience should not perceive Maxim as 'a character completely different from me.' The goal was to make the audience empathize and say, 'Yeah, I can understand him.'"

"With a change in the venue, a new goal is to deliver the sound more delicately, and that makes it exciting."

Describing the process as a "challenging yet exciting assignment," Tei views the ongoing encore run as a gift.

"I've watched 'Rebecca' several times. I think I've seen it almost eight times. It's always been breathtaking. Maxim was a role I've always wanted to perform."

"Rebecca" continues at the LG Arts Center until Feb. 24.