Yenny is latest K-pop star to attempt musical leap
By Kwon Mee-yoo After absorbing a wealth of talent from theater and opera in previous years, Korea's ever-growing musical industry is now eager to invite an invasion of pop singers.
While a slew of artists have attempted a transition from K-pop music to musicals recently, the results have been hit-or-miss. Ock Ju-hyun, formerly Lee Hyo-ri's sidekick on the girl group FinKL, has exceeded expectations and is now one of the most in-demand individuals in musical theater. Bada, the former SES member, leads a long list of recording artists who were rendered anonymous.
Yenny, a member of the popular girl group Wonder Girls, is the latest K-pop star to attempt the musical jump.
She is currently playing the role of Constance in the musical version of "The Three Musketeers" being staged at the Chungmu Art Hall in central Seoul. Unlike Ock, who fully devoted herself to musicals after FinKL disbanded, Yenny is attempting to balance her work in Three Musketeers with her obligations as a Wonder Girl.
However, she is serious about making the most out of the experience as she considers musicals as a critical career option down the road. Not a bad idea since in the cut-throat world that is K-pop the shelf life of girl- and boy- bands tends to be rather short.
Constance is not an easy role for Yenny to shine as her appearances are short and come far in between. The Three Musketeers, an adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas classic, of course revolves around the story of three, inseparable musketeers — Aramis, Athos and Porthos — and their new friend d'Artagnan. Constance, a pretty young lady d'Artagnan falls in love with, is hardly an essential character, but Yenny does her best to leave an impression with her energy and perkiness.
After finishing her first performance on Friday last week, Yenny tweeted "I was very nervous and showed my lack of experience in some moments, but I will improve."
"Constance is a bright, positive young girl who is free from formalities. She might look silly at times because she is clearly naive, but I really focused on expressing her energy and optimism," Yenny said in an interview with The Korea Times.
"The two other actresses alternating the role of Constance — Kim So-hyun and J-Min — take a more feminine approach to the character, but I interpret Constance as a confident and ambitious girl. The character I play on stage is a product of both the script and my imagination and it was fun creating her," she continued.
"Constance is fun-loving and innocent, but also a little nosy as she agrees to secretly look after the man in the iron mask at her uncle's house without really knowing who it is."
In the second act of the musical, Yenny is put behind bars for protecting that mysterious man, who later turns out to be the king, Louis XIV. Yenny prepared and performs this part of the act with passion, perhaps to the point of over-doing it.
"This was the difficult part for me — Constance going through a sudden change from being a loving child to a woman behind bars. To express her despair believably, I spent a lot of time researching the details of the prison on Sainte-Marguerite Island and read a lot of documents and watched documentaries about political prisoner camps," she said.
While Yenny has been with the Wonder Girls since 2007, rehearsing with 20 or so musical actors was an entirely different experience for her.
"When I'm at Wonder Girls' concerts, I am just Yenny, but in The Three Musketeers I should be singing as Constance, not Yenny," she said. "I have to concentrate on my partner and other actors to make the show smooth. If I get lost in my singing and acting, it might go against the flow of the show."
She also learned the importance of harmony while participating in the show. She has been singing and dancing on numerous stages across the globe, but being on a theatrical show was a bit different.
Yenny said she shed tears when she saw the scene with Athos leaving the three musketeers to be with his lover at the end of the show during a dress rehearsal.
"The rest of the musketeers do not join his last chant of ‘we are one' when he leaves. Athos does not blame them but breathes a little sigh carrying complex feelings. I could see the joy and sorrow they shared in the sigh and their slogan chanted right after," Yenny said.
Athos' situation might be similar to that of Wonder Girls' Sun-ye, who married in January and left for Canada, temporarily ceasing her activities as a member of the group.
"Wonder Girls is like a family now. I don't think it was an end for us, but we will be together forever," she said. "I've been learning music and acting for a long time and I think the time to show another part of me has come."
"The Three Musketeers" runs through April 21. Tickets cost from 50,000 to 130,000 won. For more information, visit www.musicalthreemusketeers.com or call (02) 764-7857.