The Musical magazine August 2017 issue.
Cover story : Yoo Yeon Seok and Jung Moon Sung.
The face that’s hidden behind the familiar look.
Yoo Yeon Seok
Transformation. (It does sound a little cliché but) is there any better word to describe Yoo Yeon Seok’s choice of challenging the eleventh season of 〈Hedwig〉?
Since its debut in 2005 until now, we have went through a diverse of stars playing〈Hedwig〉but there was no other actor’s casting news that made eyes widened like Yoo Yeon Seok’s.
Actors who are without doubt will suit (the role), and actors who piqued an infinite curiosity. When the previous cast of 〈Hedwig〉are divided into those two groups, Yoo Yeon Seok perhaps is at the extreme end of the latter group.
We’re surprised at the unexpected casting, and the same was true for Yoo Yeon Seok himself.
“I first saw〈Hedwig〉as a musical in the past. About 5 to 6 years ago? Back then I was purely in the position of an audience, I never thought of wanting to challenge it. Then last year when I saw it again through (Jo) Seung Woo hyung’s performance, I wanted to try doing it if I ever get the chance to do a musical again. But, will I be able to do it? ‘Can I really?’ I thought”
Although he has resolved that if he is to challenge it, it would be better to do it when he is young, he took quite a long time in deciding whether to appear in the musical.
“When I received the proposal to star (in the musical), I was tongue tied and couldn’t say ‘I’ll gladly do it’. However, I kept on thinking about it for months. I kept on asking people around me on what were their thoughts if I’m going to do〈Hedwig〉. It is a very big challenge for me, so I was terrified and hesitant, but deep inside I really want to do it. At the time when I was worrying the most, someone said this: If you really want to do it, do it and don’t worry about other things. And I finally plucked up the courage to do it.”
What is the reason behind his determination to go on this rough adventure of playing a bizarre, transgender rocker with a strange fate who shows her obsession until the end, which is far from the ‘milk man’ image whom he is dubbed as? When he could just easily walk down the flowery path of playing prince like characters as dreamed of by other actors around his age, since he’s actor Yoo Yeon Seok, the trending heartthrob?
“I always have a strong feeling for challenges. I’m always yearning to do things I’ve never done before. But it seems like (the things I haven’t tried) are getting less and less. And I think in my own way as an actor I have steadily making transformations through my characters. People who only know Yoo Yeon Seok, the name of the actor are looking at me with only one image. So I want to make a drastic transformation.”
When Yoo Yeon Seok did the photoshoot for the musical promotional photos, it was the first time in his life that he tried cross-dressing as a woman. Did he succeed in accepting without qualms the image of a complete stranger, which is the first task of transforming into Hedwig?
“Before the photoshoot, I honestly could not imagine how I would look like when cross-dressing as a woman. I was worried – would I be totally embarrassed when wearing a skirt in front of many people? But the response from the scene was really great. Everyone said that I look pretty, and it’s not that bad when seeing it myself. I was quite satisfied (laughs).”
In his earnest, step by step approach towards the new journey called〈Hedwig〉, Yoo Yeon Seok looked for movies that could be of any help for him to play her, and last weekend he went to a drag queen club for the first time. Then what is his biggest concern now?
“Before the first reading, I couldn’t figure out what to do with the voice tone. When practising alone, I wanted to know if I should put on a very feminine voice or a moderately feminine voice. During the long hours of the first reading with〈Hedwig〉 staffs, they said that my own way of voice tone which I was worrying about was actually okay. I think I got the courage that I can do it more boldly. Maybe I will fundamentally stick to the original script, but I still want to look for parts that can give a lot of pleasure to the audience, from my own kind of Hedwig.”
It is not an exaggeration to say that of all musicals, it is the work that changes most according to the actors, so what kind of Hedwig we will once again see in this〈Hedwig〉?
At the end of the interview, Yoo Yeon Seok was asked on what kind of title he wanted his performance review articles to be blazed with. He laughed mischievously and spoke in a clear tone.
“The newest and most beautiful Hedwig. I want to get such evaluation”
[T/N: The translation might contain errors since there are parts that I got confused with. So do help and tell if there are mistakes that you can see ^^]