Kim Junsu speaks at a press conference for musical "Tears of Heaven" held at the Imperial Palace hotel in Seoul, South Korea on December 13, 2010. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Q: It seems like it’ll be inevitable that “Tears of Heaven” will be compared to “Miss Saigon” because both are set during the Vietnam War and are about the love between a Vietnamese woman and a dispatched soldier.
Seol Do-yoon: If you think the two are similar because they’re set during the same time period, it would be the same for “Les Miserables” which is about the French Revolution or the “Phantom of the Opera” about the Opera House in Paris. That’s why I had asked our creative team from overseas, including Frank Wildhorn, about whether they had watched “Miss Saigon.” But the only similarity is that the setting is the Vietnam War. If you must compare the two, “Miss Saigon” told more about the Bui Doi or social phenomenon such as the ‘American Dream’ while “Tears of Heaven” is focused on love. And while “Miss Saigon” starts off with the actual photograph of the Vietnamese woman parting with her child at the airport, we start off with Jo Sung-mo’s music video for “Do You Know.” We held two workshops in New York with our producer there, officials related to the theater and several experts but not once did they say it’s similar to “Miss Saigon.”
Q: The fact that you cast Kim Junsu is definitely eye-catching. For what reason was this and what process did he go through to get the part?
Seol Do-yoon: Kim Junsu went through a private audition for his role, just like the rest of the cast. Of course we thought of how his casting would affect the production in terms of success but his capability as a musical actor had already been verified through “Mozart!” I felt that he was the right one for his role and the majority of creative teams overseas agreed to it as well.
Kim Junsu: I’m here today as a musical actor although I feel a bit ashamed to call myself one. This will be my second musical after “Mozart!” and unlike the previous production, “Tears of Heaven” will focus more and love along with elements of betrayal and conflict. And I personally think music is most important to a musical but Frank Wildhorn’s music was different from that of “Mozart!” --classical but containing a lot of pop music-like elements so I feel like that’s what I could do a good job of bringing out. It’s true that I’m very nervous as well but I’d like to enjoy the situation I’m in with the audience.
Jung Sang-yoon attends a press conference for musical "Tears of Heaven" held at the Imperial Palace hotel in Seoul, South Korea on December 13, 2010. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Q: You did “Mozart!” but you must feel a lot of pressure in terms of the acting since you’re originally a singer.
Kim Junsu: The pressure applies to singing as well. I went through a lot of trial and error while doing “Mozart!” because singing pop music is different from singing in a musical. There are differences in terms of vocalizing and how you weave in your emotions into your singing, although both are based on the same form of language that we call singing. And a lot of people are worried about my acting. All I can say for now is that I’ll work hard and improve on it so that I’ll become a better musical actor.
Q: There was controversy a few days ago over how much actor Cho Seung-woo receives for each show he stars in for musical “Jekyll & Hyde.” How much Kim Junsu made through “Mozart!” got revealed at the time as well. How much will he get for “Tears of Heaven”?
Seol: How much or how less one receives as a guarantee fee compared to someone else isn’t important because there isn’t a definite criteria -- it’ll depend on a variety of factors including the number of shows or the size of the theater. But if I may say so officially, Kim Junsu is taking part in “Tears of Heaven” with no guaranteed fee. The agency he is with invested in the production so he’ll be given a certain share of the production’s stake when it starts making profits.
Jeon Dong-suk speaks at a press conference for musical "Tears of Heaven" held at the Imperial Palace hotel in Seoul, South Korea on December 13, 2010. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]
Q: Jung Sang-yoon and Jeon Dong-seok, you’ll be switching off the role of Jun with Kim Junsu. Why did you choose to take on this role and could you give us a brief explanation of your character?
Jeon Dong-seok: I personally love Frank Wildhorn’s music so I’m happy to get to take part in another one of his productions after “The Count of Monte Cristo.” The songs are classical numbers and go well with me. Jun goes to Vietnam after giving up on his dream to become a writer. I see him as a character who is both sensitive and artistic.
Jung Sang-yoon: I played the role of Raoul for over a year in “Phantom of the Opera” so after being in one production for such a long time, I was full of the desire to take on a new musical and character and was lucky enough to get to choose a good musical. At first Jun is attracted to Lyn for her looks and voice but he’s someone that wants to cure her of the surprisingly dark and gloomy side to her.
Q: Brad Little, this will be your third time appearing in a musical in Korea after “Phantom of the Opera” and “Jekyll & Hyde.” What sort of character is Colonel Grayson?
Brad Little: I think I must be the first non-Korean actor who has been in Korean musicals. (laugh) Colonel Grayson is the staff officer of the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command. He falls in love with the beautiful Vietnamese singer Lyn and he wants her to love him back but it doesn’t happen so easily. It feels like he’s similar to the phantom from the “Phantom of the Opera” but he’s also completely different from phantom as well. There will also be a passionate and romantic theme to the article like in “Jekyll & Hyde” which female fans are bound to love so you can look forward to that as well. (laugh)
Q: In what language will the production be created? Colonel Grayson appears as a main character in the musical.
Seol: Grayson will say his lines in English and all the characters who speak with him will also speak in English. But conversations with Jun will be in Korean. This is a method that has almost never been attempted before and it may be difficult for the audience to immerse themselves into the story because there will be subtitles but we judged that it’s the right way to go about it. That’s also why the actors are pressured about the English but I told the producer yesterday that it may be better for the actors to have their characters use Korean-style English and Vietnamese-style English rather than speak the language perfectly.