By Chung Ah-young
The buzz word in this year's musical trend was``movical,'' referring to the combination of movies and musicals.
The boom in re-creating the cinematic arts on the musical stage cashes in on the success of hit films such as ``Radio Star'' and ``The Harmonium in My Memory.'' Yet such musicals could be boring if they simply follow the same storyline of the film.
However, a new musical, ``200-Pound Beauty,'' based on the 2006 film of the same title, simply took the worries away by distinctively reinterpreting the original work.
The musical, starring singer-turned-actress Bada, better known as Choi Sung-hee, and actress Yoon Gong-ju, who both portray Kang Han-byeol, and actor Song Chang-ui, who takes the role of Han Sang-jun, opened Thursday at Chung Art Hall in Seoul.
The musical effectively condensed the story of the film version into an intensive comical show, with diverse musical elements and reinterpreted characters.
Using many musical numbers in addition to familiar songs already in the film, the musical invented more sophisticated stage sets, helping them change more quickly and spontaneously.
The most difficult part of the musical rendition was to portray the highlight of the story in which Han-byeol ― the title character ― transforms from a more-than-200-pound woman into a slim and beautiful woman after cosmettic surgery.
To portray the transformation, the musical used special make-up and specially designed stage sets, lights and costumes. In the surgery scene, the obese Han-byeol's change occurs like magic while a musical number is played.
The musical put more emphasis on the character of Lee Gong-hak, a top cosmetic surgeon who also happens to be her phone-sex customer, who was played by veteran actor Kim Sung-ki. Kim wonderfully inhabits the character with his unique mannerisms, a crucial part of the show for entertaining the audience.
Main actress Yoon exerted her energetic vocal capacity, displaying vocal tones reminiscent of the film heroine Kim A-jung's voice.
Her acting and singing were superb, fitting for the role of a top singer, but with much more accurate pronunciation and powerful resonance.
However, Song, who played Sang-jun, a famed music producer, was a little bit disappointing, as his timbre was a little unstable.
The musical was faithfully loyal to the basic plot but cut unnecessary parts and then filled the gaps with witty lyrics tinged with musical imagination and catchy musical numbers to escalate dramatic tension.
The original work's scenes of cinematic sophistication were replaced with musical elements with the help of the diverse staging.
Not only the actors and actresses but also the chorus and dancers superbly supported the story.
The musical reaches the same conclusion as the film, but its finale, in which Han-byeol and Sang-jun sing a duet, was a fresh twist possible only in the musical genre.
Broadway composer Tim Acito and stage designer Brian Prather were part of the creative team.
The musical ``200-Pound Beauty'' will be on stage until Feb. 1 at the Chungmu Art Hall, central Seoul. Tickets cost from 40,000 won to 90,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3485-8721 or visit www.musicalbeautifulgirl.com.