Jekyll and Hyde in Seoul“‘Jekyll and Hyde’ is not a show, but a mirror that shows who you are.”
These are the words of Choi Jeong-won, 35, who stars in the first-ever performance of the musical in Korea, from July 24 to August 21, at the Seoul Coex Auditorium.
Ms. Choi went to New York exactly six years ago to perform in the musical “Singing In The Rain.” It was there she went to Broadway and saw “Jekyll and Hyde” at a small theater. She described it as like being hammered in the chest, leaving her trembling in shock.
During her short stay in New York, she watched “Jekyll and Hyde” seven times, paying $85 each time. Since it was right after financial crisis in Korea, the exchange rate was high, and she spent all the money she earned performing “Singing in the Rain” to watch “Jekyll and Hyde.”
At that time she was trying to find the answers to eternal questions like “Who am I?” and “What is acting?”
“Watching the show I felt a shiver running down my spine. It made me look back at all the pretentious masks I’ve been wearing,” said Ms. Choi.
She couldn’t get over “Jekyll and Hyde” even after she came back from New York. She asked around to locate a script of “Jekyll and Hyde” and practiced all the songs in it.
“I really wanted to go to New York for the audition, even if it meant I would lose what I had built in Korea, because that musical made me realize who I really was and what I really wanted,” she said.
In the end, however, there were too many things that prevented her from making a return to New York City. Yet “Jekyll and Hyde” was still alive in her heart.
The musical spawned a strange habit. Whenever she had to perform the next day, she would wait till everyone went to bed. “Lying down, I close my eyes and imagine myself sitting as an audience, while there is another me performing on the stage,” she said.
Each word, even the lengths of pauses, are exactly the same as the real performance. “It requires a lot of energy to concentrate. When the imaginary curtain comes down, my body shakes as if I’ve been performing in reality.
“I have so many different persons inside me,” she said. “And when I get a role, I choose one person and kill the rest. Whenever I do this, it is as painful as giving birth.” During a performance, she loves her character almost as if it’s her baby.
“When the show is finished though, I have to forget about the role completely. Any remnant of my past role is always on the way to play the next role,” she said.
And so it is, after six years “Jekyll and Hyde” has finally found Ms Choi. She is cast as Lucy, the tragic woman who falls in love with Jekyll, for the Seoul performance.
Originally supposed to be in the musical “Saturday Night Fever,” she talked to that show’s producer and director, Yun Seok-hwa, who let her make the move to “Jekyll.”
by Baik Sung-ho
Tickets are from 50,000 ($43) to 90,000 won. For more information, call (02) 556-8556.