Park Jung-hwan, left, and Hur Gyu sing a song written by the late composer Lee Young-hoon at a press conference for the musical "Gwanghwamun Younga" in Seoul, Tuesday. / Courtesy of Gwanghwamun Younga
By Kwon Mee-yoo
“Gwanghwamun Younga,” a jukebox musical featuring songs by the late composer Lee Young-hoon, finally unveiled its cast.
Actor Song Chang-ui and Yoon Do-hyun from YB, or Yoon Do-hyun Band, share the role of Sang-hoon, a composer who falls in love with Yeo-ju. Lisa Chung, singer and musical actress, will perform the part of the female lead, while actors Kim Moo-yeol and Lim Byung-geun will play Hyeon-woo, brother of Sang-hoon, who also likes Yeo-ju.
“I remember listening to songs by Lee when I was young. I will portray a truthful love story through these timeless songs,” Song said.
Yoon said it is his first time to play a romantic character. “I will bring the girlish sensibility within me to play Sang-hoon.”
Their love triangle will be presented through a play within a play, and veteran actor Park Jung-hwan will be the older Sang-hoon, the narrator. Park’s voice is very similar to that of the late composer.
The trend of casting young K-pop stars in musicals is no exception in “Gwanghwamun Younga.” Yang Yo-seop of B2st was chosen to perform the role of Ji-yong, son of Yeo-ju and Hyeon-woo. He is the one who comes to Sang-hoon and asks him to tell the story. Hur Gyu, vocalist of rock band 7grams, will alternate in the role of the son.
Composer Lee, who started with writing music for plays, later teamed up with singer Lee Moon-sae and composed hit songs such as “When Love Passes By” and “A Poem for a Poem.” His songs were very popular and many young K-pop singers covered them, such as Big Bang’s “Sunset Glow.”
Sadly, he passed away in 2008 at the age of 48 due to colorectal cancer. Staging a musical with his own songs was a long-time dream of the composer and producer Lim Young-kun was one of his friends who helped draw up the plan.
“Lee often said he would spend his later years revising the musical,” Lim said. “I am glad to continue the musical production even though Lee has passed away.”
The Grand Theater of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, the venue of the musical, is one of the largest theaters in Korea.
Lee Gi-na, director of the musical, admitted that the space is a bit big.
“However, I thought it is proper to stage ‘Gwanghwamun Younga’ in Gwanghwamun, adjacent to the Sejong Center. It was also a dream of late composer Lee,” she said. “I will fill the stage with the depth of time. The musical covers a period from the 1980s to now, as Lee’s music is loved by younger generations as well as the older ones.”
Some of Lee’s songs will be performed in their original versions, bringing a hint of nostalgia, while the others will be arranged with a modern twist.
Won Jong-won, a musical critic, said the trend of jukebox musicals has swept across the globe and Korea is no exception.
“The musical is a popular, familiar genre of art and ‘Gwanghwamun Younga’ will be a nostalgic experience for the generation that grew up with Lee, while the younger generation will open to the beautiful songs,” Won said.
The musical runs from March 20 to April 10 at the Grand Theater of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets cost from 30,000 won to 130,000 won. Call 1666-8662 for more information.