Oh Man-seok (King and I, The Vineyard Man) got his start in musicals, and now he’s taking on his debut directing role for the upcoming production of The Happy Life.
Not only does Oh direct the musical, which is currently in the midst of rehearsing, he polished the script himself and wrote the lyrics to the songs. Most of the actors are musical theater veterans, although there are a few screen actors as well, including Yoo Joon-sang (Tell Me Something, Catch a Kangnam Mother) and boy-bander Ryan of Paran.
The story centers around two guys who are crazy about music. One is a high school music teacher, “Beom-jin,” who has broken up with his girlfriend and now eats sadly alone in front of his mirror out of habit. Another is the younger “Sae-ki,” whose mother left and whose father died in a sudden accident, leaving him an orphan. In this rather dull world, the only thing that makes these two feel alive is music, offering them their “happy life.”
Oh explains, “The title ‘Happy Life’ is somewhat ironic. None of the characters have much to be excited about, and are depressed. But it’s about the music, love, and lives of people who do what they can to ignore that aspect and live each moment of their lives joyfully. It’s a musical that’s both cheerful and emotionally weighty.”
Yoo Joon-sang takes the main role of Beom-jin and says, “When I was asked if I would work on a project with Oh Man-seok, I answered immediately. The script was good, and when I met with Director Oh for the first time, I found myself having faith in him, and that faith has grown stronger as we’ve worked together.” Also appearing as Beom-jin (in alternating performances) is veteran musical actor Im Choon-gil.
The role of Sae-ki is also split among actors, the main one being Kim Moo-yeol (of SBS’s Iljimae). It’s interesting to see Ryan of Paran taking his acting more seriously (he also appeared in the dramas Hello Miss and I Am Sam); this will be his musical theater debut. He says of his role, “Because I’m a timid person, I’m the type who does pay attention to people’s reactions. So when the time draws closer to my performance, I’ll be losing some sleep.”
Oh Man-seok explains, “I’ve directed without pay before, but this is the first time I’m being paid to direct, and therefore I feel a big sense of responsibility, fear, and nerves. Still, I’m doing my best to work with these good actors to create something from nothing.”
The musical runs from November 21 through February 8, 2009.
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