[ON STAGE]See Him, Hear Him Sing 6 Solos

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[ON STAGE]See Him, Hear Him Sing 6 Solos

The famed rock musical "The Who's Tommy" will make its Korea premiere this week, with the local actor Hwang Jeong-min in the title role.

First staged on Broadway in 1993, "Tommy" is generally known for its portrayal of the hippies and anti-war sentiments of the late '60s. The original musical took the Tony award for best production in its debut year.

Tommy is a young man who became deaf, dumb and blind in his childhood due to the shock of seeing his father shot by his mother's secret lover. After growing up neglected and abused, he becomes famous when he displays a miraculous talent for pinball. The story follows his vicissitudes of becoming a hippie icon and eventually an object of worship.

Taking on the challenging title role is Hwang, who is known for his lead in the musical "Subway No. 1." He joined that play in 1995 and stayed with it through to its final performance in Berlin in April. But "Tommy" will be, in effect, his debut on the big stage.

"I learned a lot of valuable things in 'Subway No. 1," Hwang said. "No matter how important the dancing and singing are for a musical, it's nothing compared to the vitality of the acting. Good acting is key to everything and that is what I'm most confident in." Hwang's convincing portrayal of an angry rebel in "Subway" makes him a good choice for the "Tommy" lead.

The actor had a busy summer this year. After the finale of "Subway" in Berlin, he was cast in a couple of movies: He appeared in the film "Waikiki Brothers" as a drummer and just finished shooting on "Road Movie." But to be ready to appear before live audiences again, Hwang needs to shore up his stage-specific skills. "A couple of songs in this musical are tough for me because they're so high-pitched," he explained. "Five months of being busy with movies and away from the stage have made my singing voice rusty."

But Hwang said it would only be a matter of time before he got it right. "Since I don't feel pressure with the acting side I'll be concentrating on my singing," he said. "Tommy" calls for Hwang to sing six solos.

Whether he'll be able to hit the high notes or not, "Tommy," with its music, dance and drama, should be a sight and sound sensation. For more information call 02-766-8552.

by Jung Jae-wal

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