Girls’ Generation singer makes theatrical debut

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Girls’ Generation singer makes theatrical debut


Girls’ Generation member Taeyeon makes her musical theater debut in “Midnight Sun,” which opened Friday in Seoul. Provided by the organizer

In a small Japanese seaside town known for its sunny weather and an annual surfing event lives a 17-year-old girl named Kaoru, who suffers from a rare skin disease that keeps her from going outside during the day. She keeps her hopes up by writing songs and singing every night at a train station in the neighborhood. One day, she meets a surfer and the two gradually become close. But Kaoru’s disease makes it difficult for them to maintain their relationship. To make matters worse, the clock on her life is ticking.

This is the plot of the musical “Midnight Sun,” which opened in Seoul last Friday. The musical is based on the Japanese novel by the same name, written by Aya Denkawa in 2006. The book was so popular in Japan that it was made into a film and television drama later that year.

The Korean version of the musical generated a buzz even before it opened because it marks the musical theater debut of Taeyeon, the lead vocalist in the well-known Korean pop group Girls’ Generation.

At a packed dress rehearsal for the musical last Friday afternoon, Taeyeon was the right actress for the role. Her status as a pop star doesn’t hurt either, a fact the musical’s production company was not afraid to acknowledge.


Fans sent flowers to the Kpop star to wish her luck. By Park Sun-young

“Taeyeon has stood out since her debut in Girls’ Generation, demonstrating through her singing abilities and activities on radio and television shows that she is not just a pretty face,” the production company said. “From the outset of the production of the musical, we thought that no other actress would be better for the role of Kaoru than Taeyeon - and we were right.”

Shows featuring Taeyeon were reported to be sold out, demonstrating that the star factor has had a positive impact on ticket sales. In fact, that is a strategy that is being employed by an increasing number of producers in the local musical theater industry in recent years.

But Hwang Jae-hun, the director of the musical, has a more positive view of the trend.

“I think that engaging stars in the cast of a musical theater production can have a positive effect, for instance, it can entice the general public to become more familiar with the art form,” Hwang said.

But the idol effect only goes so far, he added.

“If a production is below the standard, the audience will turn away, even if there are stars in the cast,” he said.

Nevertheless, the support of Taeyeon’s fans was evident on the day of the dress rehearsal. The entrance to the theater was full of standing wreaths sent by Girls’ Generation fans to wish their idol good luck on her debut.

But Taeyeon is not letting the attention distract her from her performance.

“I have long wanted to do the musical, so I was delighted at the suggestion,” Taeyeon said Monday in a telephone interview with the JoongAng Daily. “And I knew about Midnight Sun from listening to the music from the film, which was good for me.”

Though some had wondered about her acting ability, Taeyeon did a good job of expressing the thoughts and emotions of a girl who is struggling against a terminal illness. And her mellifluous voice is a good instrument for the delicate pitch of the music.

“I’ve been on stage three times so far and it feels like the more I do it the more comfortable it is,” she said. “I feel more confident today than yesterday.”

*Midnight Sun runs until May 29 at the M Theater at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. The musical starts at 8 p.m. on weekdays, at 3 and 7 p.m. on Saturdays and at 4 p.m. on Sundays. There are no performances on Mondays. Tickets range from 30,000 won ($26.40) to 50,000 won. Go to Gwanghwamun Station, line No. 5, exit 1 or 8. For more information, call (02) 399-1114 or visit

By Park Sun-young []
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