It is has been a little over a week since I returned home from Seoul and admittedly, I am still reeling from the after effects of seeing this extraordinary musical and, well, G.O! I thought I would offer some final thoughts on the musical and his wonderful performance.
On April 8, 2014 I went to the theater with a general idea of what the story of Seopyeonje was about. What I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional intensity each one of the actors brought to the stage, G.O included. From the actors who portrayed Song Hwa and Dong Ho as children, to the show’s seasoned leads, to all of the extras, everything about this musical was sweeping and magical.
The theater itself (Universal Arts Center) was lovely. When I first walked up to it, I was taken aback by the huge wall plates of the actors that adorned the sides of the building. Shrouded in lights, it was a sight to behold.
I cannot help but think how amazing it must feel for G.O himself to see his likeness paneled with such grandeur on the outside of the theater. I was so excited and happy for him. Even the banner at street level was spectacular. All of it was so wonderful to behold….and at that point, I hadn’t even seen the show yet!!
I was also pleasantly surprised by the welcoming staff at the Universal Arts Center, especially the ladies in the box office. They literally took such good care of me in making sure I had great seats for the first two shows I attended. I thought I had chosen great seats (2nd row) but that row was actually the first and was a little obstructed in view. The ladies in the box office were always so amused to see me keep coming back for the next show starring G.O but were ever so gracious and kind in making me feel less awkward about it and very welcomed. On my last night in Seoul (and final show I was to see) they even gifted me a set of postcards of the show’s lead cast (G.O included) – something, to my knowledge, not on sale and available to the public.
They made me feel truly special, as did G.O with his gracious and ever present indomitable fan service – first by being curious enough to ask me where I was from, and second by acknowledging me after one of the shows. If the show itself wasn’t grand enough, the events surrounding it made my experience even richer.
But the show…yes, the show. It was amazing. And the cast phenomenal.
I had the distinct honor of seeing the three actresses cast as the lead, playing Song Hwa (Cha Ji Yeon, Li Ja Ram, and Chang Eun Ah) opposite G.O’s Dong Ho.
All three were fabulous and all three brought a different dynamic to the role. Additionally, all three had wonderful chemistry with G.O.
G.O is a good actor. And we already know he has an amazing voice. Inasmuch as live theater is challenging, he seemed so comfortable and so at home up on that stage. Also, I believe that when you are playing opposite good, strong actors, the playing field is elevated and you have to rise to the occasion. G.O was the hoobae, that’s a fact. Yet, you would not have known it. He held his own opposite the more seasoned actors and held it well. I was so very impressed.
In both the first and second acts of the show, it is G.O who opens. And both times with a rock number. I was blown away. The resident soul machine of MBLAQ completely rocking it out. It was impressive to say the least. I especially like the song that opened the second act, 청춘이묻는다. I am not sure of the exact translation, but the song is essentially Dong Ho’s hit song that gets recorded. The reason I love it is because it couples G.O’s soft tender vocals with his more than capable rock vocals. And visually, the scene was stunning.
Here is a lovely on air in radio station audio recording of this very song, around the 2:29 mark. He is just incredible.
Dong Ho is a gloriously conflicted character. I would imagine he is the kind of character an actor would love to sink his teeth into and play. And here, G.O was given that opportunity and he ran with it. At odds with an overbearing and somewhat abusive father, Dong Ho leaves the family to set out to make a career of his own, leaving his beloved sister, Song Hwa, behind to forge ahead in life as a pansori singer under the tutelage and control of their father.
Mixing flashback with real time, the musical chronicles the journey of the three lead characters both in good times as a successful family unit of musicians to the heartbreaking events that occur after Dong Ho leaves to forge his own career, to have his own voice, to sing his own song.
G.O played Dong Ho with a mixture of tenderness, pathos and resolve. His Dong Ho was a singer who wanted to have his own voice. And really, this musical was all about having a voice. Yo Bong (the father) was the voice of authority. Song Hwa was the voice of reassurance, love and reason. Dong Ho was the voice of rebellion. I may not have understood the language of the musical fully, but as the story played out, I still understood what was going on. This was the sheer power of the performances and the music being delivered straight to my heart.
I have to give mad props to the production team for this musical as well as its director Lee Gina and musical director, Kim Moon Jung. But all of it would not have been made possible without the extraordinarily beautiful music which was at times haunting and heart wrenching. Yoon Il Sang wrote, composed and arranged the entire score. For me, the music was just as much a character as its human counterparts.
Here, Dong Ho jailed, sings the tender My Life is Gone. When I listen to G.O sing this song I cry every time. Every.time.
Casting idols in musicals seems to be a trend as of late and often times it is met with mixed reviews. There is a staunch and solid musical theater audience in Seoul and an idol coming from the K-pop world seems an unlikely partnership and I would gather it would be hard to win that particular hardcore audience over. Inasmuch as many idols have crossed over into drama and/or film land, acting is generally not their forte. G.O has had the opportunity to act in dramas which I think it has lent itself well in preparing him for the musical stage. Being a strong singer is one thing. Being a strong singer who can act is gold. A musical theater actor has to convey his/her story through song and very limited dialogue. G.O has always been able to convey a story through song. His honest and emotional delivery, vocal phrasing and powerful voice as it turns out, work well (quite well actually) on the musical stage. He is thoughtful and expressive. It was the perfect way for him to introduce himself to me in a live performance capacity.
The accolades he received in Seopyeonje created enough of a buzz to see him cast in the extremely popular and award-winning musical 바람의나라 (The Kingdom of the Winds). Seems he proved to the musical theater aficionados that he truly is the real deal and has what it takes to command the musical theater stage! Yes…G.O hwaiting!!!
I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for him right now to still be performing in Seopyeonje and rehearsing for Kingdom. He will have a short (like 2 days) break between musicals. His last performance in Seopyeonje is on May 8th and he has been single-cast in Kingdom and will not be sharing the role with any other actors which means he will be performing in every single show. He is set to open with Kingdom on May 11.
I will be in the audience on May 16 and May 17. Yes…a fangirls gotta do what a fangirls gotta do!! ^.^
[Image credit: as tagged, mydaily.co.kr and Michele DeMarco/Video credit: tvdaily, RomanceG_O and UPstageTV]