I’m back with a new musical drama! I guess after You’ve Fallen For Me, my fix for musicals wasn’t sated. I honestly was not going to watch this drama at all. I was quite partial to What’s Up (Im! Joo! Hwan!) and didn’t want to bother watching this drama. But just one episode and I can’t help but be hooked. The music is GOOD. You’ve Fallen For Me concentrates on the fresh-romance-college-student scenario, whereas The Musical concentrates on the name-in-big-bright-lights scenario. Mixed together, it would make for an excellent drama. Maybe. Let’s see if The Musical holds up for its entire 16 episodes.
Without further ado, I present to you The Musical!
Go Eun Bi (Gu Hye Sun) is a third-year medical student who seems to be doing the whole med-school-track to please her family. Her true aspirations lie in singing and dancing for musicals. She lives, breathes, sleeps, oozes musicals – particularly songs like “This is My Moment” by Jo Seung Woo in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I love how she memorizes her bio terms and diseases by singing them – even though it earns her stares on the train. Or when she watches a musical through her iPad/tablet instead of listening to her teacher go on about anatomy, only to fall into a daydream that her entire class is singing “This is My Moment” with her.
And how awesome is it that she gets Hong Ji Min to be her professor?
She bumps into composer Hong Jae Hee (Daniel Choi) late one night. He just arrived in Korea after a stint in New York and was out drinking with his buddy Gu Jak, an aspiring musical producer/director who wants Jae Hee to just write him a musical score already. Thing is, Jae Hee refuses to write another musical song (sticking to pop songs instead) because of a stigma associated with Bae Kang Hee (Ok Joo Hyun).
Despite his drunken state, he yells at Eun Bi for completely massacring one of his songs, “Maria.” She doesn’t believe for a second that he could be famous Hong Jae Hee, but is completely offended when he tells her that she’s a terrible singer. With that, she takes a leave of absence from school and vows to make it on a musical in one year.
Now back to Bae Kang Hee – she’s a famous, super-talented musical actress. Already I can feel the stirrings of a “Boy Loves Girl, Girl Loves Music, Girl Leaves Boy for Music, Boy Becomes Bitter” storyline. She meets one of the investors of the play she’s starring in, and he introduces her to Yoo Jin (Park Ki Woong), his younger grandson who will now be investing his family’s money into musicals. Yoo Jin has a savvy business sense, so despite his meager budget, he manages to profit well from his small investments.
And so, as these characters meet, we skip to one year ahead, where Eun Bi has two weeks left on her 1-year deadline…
Episode 1 and 2:
What is a girl to do when she’s getting calls from her family about going back to school, cut her hair real short, and works part time at a movie theater? She looks through the ads and finds an audition call for a male chorus. Well… she looks androgynous enough…
Meanwhile Yoo Jin has just had another success with a musical starring Kang Hee – called “The Queen” – and celebrates with the cast. Another producer approaches him about another musical project, but he refuses to sign on because there are too many conditions attached – royalty fees, contract renewals every three years, and a high minimum guarantee payment. It becomes clear from the conversation that Yoo Jin is all about the money: small investment, big returns. No risks taken.
At the audition, Go Eun Bi – or now known as Go Eun Ho for that matter – has a hard time staying cool amidst all these hot-blooded guys. Yeah – like splaying yourself against a door is going to help. Yoo Jin comes up behind her – he needs to get through to that door.
Instinctively she raises her arms up to protect her chest. You hear that sound? Those are crickets chirping from the awkward silence. Yeah – he is SO not going to suspect you’re a girl now.
Kang Hee and Representative Han Sang Won (her lover/husband/colleague) are present for the audition. Eun Bi does well enough at the audition, and one of the casting directors calls her forward. However, Yoo Jin interrupts and kicks her out in front of everyone – she’s a girl. And if she continues insisting she’s a boy, then they can take off her shirt.
Of course, Eun Bi just leaves the room, but she begs Yoo Jin to give her another chance. She’s had over 80 auditions and every single one of them rejected her. She needs to get into a musical within two weeks, but doesn’t tell him why. He throws her bag at her; for a girl who’s failed 80 times in a year, clearly she doesn’t value musicals enough to look into herself, and figure out what’s wrong with her instead of blaming others for rejecting her.
As Yoo Jin scolds her, another aspiring musical actress overhears. Christine – or Bok Ja – takes her opportunity to make a new friend in Seoul, having come back from the States recently. She approaches Eun Bi in the bathroom and tells her that she’s an experienced actress and coach, and will train her for free. With some hints on who her senior is (Bae Kang Hee) and her experience (having worked on musicals in New York), Eun Bi eagerly clings on to her for guidance. Even if that means Christine will move in with her, and mooch off of her money for food.
Back in the audition room, it’s now time for each individual chorus member to show what he’s got. One of the guys sings “This is My Moment” but isn’t too stellar. He’s stopped prematurely, and he insists that the upcoming verse is his best part. Suddenly, Kang Hee sings that verse in her clear, strong voice effortlessly. Everyone on the judging panel smirks. Yeah – she totally creamed you on that one.
Later that evening, Yoo Jin gets a visit from an older brother who’s part of their grandfather’s company as well but heads a different department. The older brother wants to see if Yoo Jin knows any pretty girls for him to meet; he’s a player with women and money. Yoo Jin points out that he’s been able to make more money with his measly budget compared to what his brother has done. Brother ain’t too happy about that, and leaves.
Alone in his dark office, Yoo Jin throws his Spiderman toys against the window, where it crawls down the surface. “Just because you’re falling slowly doesn’t mean you’re not falling.” Looks like younger brother has some inferiority issues, a dastardly plan, and an overdose in the “bitterness pill.”
At the college admissions office, Eun Bi is having a moment of crisis – hand in her “Leave of Absence” paperwork, or “Course Registration” paperwork? She picks “Leave of Absence” and hands it to the administrator. Her friend comes up behind her and quickly rips it up. He calls up her grandmother and tattles on her. HAHA – she kicks him in the shins and then grabs the phone, lying that she’s returning to classes instead. Her poor friend can’t believe her gall at lying so baldly to her grandmother.
Yoo Jin wants to start preparing for next season of musicals by buying successful ones on Broadway. Sang Won wants to do a musical that will originate from Korea, since they’re going to host a competition anyways looking for new talent. Yoo Jin has little faith in making musicals from scratch, even though they have that competition coming up (which they use mainly for promotional purposes).
However, it’s that competition that Gu Jak wants to enter in with Jae Hee’s help. Jae Hee is still unwilling to write songs for him though.
While Christine gets calls for odd jobs of her own, she gets Eun Bi to do them for her – in the name of “practice and training.” One such job is to dress up as Sailor Moon and promote a dessert cafe. Eun Bi feels absolutely self-conscious and hates that she needs to dance and smile so embarrassingly. But she eventually finds her groove and just starts dancing a few steps to a crowd of onlookers.
Gu Jak struggles to assemble a cast of people for his play, and calls up Christine as last resort to replace another actress. Heh. Jae Hee also comes to the welcome get-together for the cast and writers, but his sole intention is to drink. Christine immediately latches on to Jae Hee because he’s so famous. She puts on the aegyo act to full effect, and it’s so irritating to hear because of her raspy voice. The others are shocked by her condescending attitude as well, and even Gu Jak regrets calling her to join the cast. He embarrasses her by calling her Bok Ja instead of her newly reinvented name.
That same night, Yoo Jin and his girlfriend/partner-at-work Ra Kyung have a meeting with Kang Hee and Sang Won about the musical competition. They want to promote the audition process through a reality TV show. Kang Hee and Sang Won can work on auditioning the actors, but they need an expert to judge the music. Yoo Jin asks if Kang Hee knows anyone who’s best in the field. “The best? There’s one…” And her thoughts stray to Jae Hee…
Jae Hee is struggling to get rid of a drunk Bok Ja, who won’t let go of him or the radish she wants to use for hangover soup. She collapses, drunk, and so Jae Hee is stuck with bringing her home. He finds Eun Bi’s number on the recently called list and asks her to come pick Bok Ja up.
When Eun Bi arrives, she tries to wake up Bok Ja, but to no avail. Jae Hee notices that she calls Bok Ja “Teacher,” and wonders what for. Eun Bi admits that Bok Ja gives her musical lessons, and that she hopes to be a musical actress in the future. He sits by his piano and starts playing a song he’s partly composed. He wants her to sing to the music – whether it’s just notes or make up her own lyrics.
Eun Bi takes one look at the music sheet and then starts singing about how she met Bok Ja.
I’ve come the long way around, because I wanted to do musicals.
A year after leaving school, 365 days, 8760 hours went by so fast.
80 auditions and I still can’t do low pitch.
When I go high – my voice cracks.
So over and over I failed the auditions. After 80 times, I had only 2 weeks left to school.
Yes! I’ve made up my mind.
Let’s dress up as a man and audition (for male chorus).
That’s when I met my tutor!
A year ago, a man told me not to even dream about being in a musical.
He said that he was Hong Jae Hee or whatever.
A drunkard who can’t even measure up to Hong Jae Hee’s filth!
That’s what got me started. I took a leave of absence and started auditioning.
That’s when I started on musicals!
EHM WOOPS! Jae Hee: “You’re… you’re the girl at Han River?”
They move their talk outside over tea. Eun Bi apologizes for insulting him earlier, especially since she looks up to him. Jae Hee finds her amusing, and instead of being mad at her, he is impressed that she memorized the music score with just a look. Eun Bi just wants to be like Kang Hee – to sing and dance onstage because it feels electrifying and exhilarating for her. Jae Hee notes that Kang Hee should aspire to be more like Eun Bi instead.
His talk with Eun Bi stays with him, and so the next morning he goes to Sang Won’s office to recommend an actress. He snags a private audition for Eun Bi three days hence. Eun Bi is surprised, but supremely grateful. She rushes to go home to train with Bok Ja, but Jae Hee tells her to train with him instead. Well isn’t that LOADS better?!
Sang Won finds Kang Hee brooding late at night, clearly mulling over how to approach Jae Hee about judging for the competition. I get this odd sense that he doesn’t really know their history, and yet at the same time it seems like their love was also legendary… He tells her about Jae Hee recommending a girl, and wonders if Jae Hee has fallen in love.
Without telling Bok Ja, Eun Bi heads over early the next morning to go practice. (So early that even Jae Hee is barely awake.) Bok Ja finds it suspicious, so on day 2 she tries following Eun Bi, but can’t catch up to her bike. During practice, Jae Hee makes her practice her scales and learn how to breathe properly in order to hit the higher notes.
We move to the countryside, where Eun Bi’s grandmother visits her neighbors, a nice, quiet couple. She hands them some homemade honey and promises to bring more of the homemade shrimp dish they like so much. They’re all very good friends, and Grandma uses his hand-me-down computer to check up on Eun Bi’s blog.
But the couple is very important to our story as well. The husband is an artist, and his wife catches him looking at a photo of Yoo Jin. She has no idea who Yoo Jin is though. The husband has regrets about sending Yoo Jin to his grandfather, as he must now struggle within the company and win this “money war.” Sounds like this man is his dad, and estranged from the entire family. Wife/stepmom is very understanding though.
Bok Ja figures out Eun Bi’s secret, so she cooks a very nice dinner and then wants her to practice. Feeling guilty, Eun Bi admits that she’s training with Jae Hee instead. The next morning, Bok Ja drags Eun Bi to Jae Hee’s house. She wants a word with him, because there is no way in hell Jae Hee would have good intentions towards Eun Bi; he’s probably a player and using the lessons to bait her. As Eun Bi’s friend, she must protect her!
Little does she know, Jae Hee is right behind her, listening to every thing she says. He starts answering her rhetorical questions, and when Bok Ja turns around, she remains unfazed. A cool person who insults won’t be fazed if her target overhears everything she said.
They all go in for practice, and Eun Bi struggles to reach the high notes. They take a break, and as Jae Hee gets coffee, Eun Bi takes a deep breath, and sings a few lines from his song “Maria” with the high notes.
And she hits it.
Jae Hee rejoices at her success and then tells her to stop talking. She needs to rest for the rest of the day and prepare for the audition tomorrow.
But Bok Ja has other plans. She wants to celebrate by eating out with Eun Bi, and then have another practice session late into the night. After all, if Eun Bi can hit the notes once, she can surely do it again, right?
Wrong – Eun Bi ends up losing her voice, and when she arrives at the audition, Sang Won immediately brushes her off for wasting their time. He recognizes her from the audition for the male chorus, and berates her for not taking better care of herself. She’s blown both of her opportunities, and goes home crying.
The doorbell rings, and Jae Hee opens excitedly expecting Eun Bi. It’s Kang Hee instead, and she gives him a small peck on the lips: “Long time no see.” Ooh – player. Jae Hee plays it cool, wondering if Kang Hee’s here to report on Eun Bi’s status, but she’s here to convince him to do musicals again. She wants him to meet Yoo Jin tonight.
As she leaves his home, of course that’s also when Eun Bi arrives at Jae Hee’s home. She hides from view as she watches Kang Hee say goodbye. She goes home still feeling bummed, and then gets a call from her father. She has to come home now.
Jae Hee attends the dinner with Yoo Jin and Kang Hee. She introduces Jae Hee as one of the best musical composers in Korea, but because he left for New York, Yoo Jin never really got to meet him. Yoo Jin is unfazed though – he values actors more than composers. He doesn’t think that Korean audiences will watch Korean-produced musicals, and doesn’t think Jae Hee is worth the money. Yoo Jin can be a prick about money sometimes. He admits openly that he’s doing the contest because Kang Hee and Sang Won want it, and not because he thinks he’ll find a good song from it.
Father wants Eun Bi to quit musicals, holding a conservative world-view about it. He wants her to go back to school as a doctor, rather than “throw off her clothes and run around naked.” Eun Bi cries – if mother were still around, she would support her. Grandma immediately rushes into the room to comfort her, and to stop Eun Bi from talking about her dead mother. Everyone seems to still be reeling from the loss.
The next morning, Jae Hee must contend with another producer wanting him to compose another hit pop song for his new girl group. Gu Jak witnesses the girl group and producers leave Jae Hee’s home, and thinks pop songs are such a waste of Jae Hee’s talents. Even if he can make money off the karaoke royalties, he should do something more worthwhile – like compose for his musical!
Jae Hee readily agrees – under two conditions. First, his name will not appear anywhere on the musical application. And secondly, he’s got someone he’d like to bring on board for the cast…
Through Bok Ja, he finds out that Eun Bi went back to her hometown. He takes the train over and meets up with her. She apologizes for wasting the opportunity he gave her, but he forgives her quickly. She needs to learn how to make an impression in a short moment, and he will help her – by composing a song just for her. Damn, he’s really going all out as a mentor!
Jae Hee’s reasoning for helping her so much is that he hasn’t seen or felt passion in a person in a long time until he met her. If she wants to continue doing musicals, he’ll do it with her.
That same evening, Ra Kyung and Yoo Jin meet up. She’s too tired to talk to him about the musical and the reality show, and so he takes her to eat barbecue. He knows her too well – if she’s irritable, it’s because she’s hungry.
Jae Hee waits for her on the train platform with two tickets, hoping that she’ll come, but he doesn’t see her. He boards the last train out, and looks for his seat. Eun Bi bursts in from the other end of the car. Yay! Grandma let her go achieve her dream!
Sitting next to each other, Jae Hee leans over and kisses her on the cheek. (!!!!!!)
Ra Kyung and Yoo Jin have a nice after-dinner walk together. By the wall, he leans in for a passionate kiss.
Eun Bi is utterly shocked that he’d kiss her, and with a playful smile, he leans to kiss her on the lips. Eun Bi covers her mouth, and so Jae Hee kisses her hands instead.
Whoa! Not what I expected for the ending of episode 2! I didn’t get why we had random scenes with Ra Kyung and Yoo Jin mixed in with Jae Hee and Eun Bi, until I realized that it was a comparison of two relationships. Ra Kyung and Yoo Jin’s relationship may be new, but it’s also calculated and cold (on Yoo Jin’s part). I can see him passionately kissing Ra Kyung, but I can’t get the feeling that he’s also manipulating her in some way. On the flip side, you have Jae Hee and Eun Bi who are completely thrilled to embark on a new adventure with musicals together. Jae Hee is simply giddy, and so he kisses Eun Bi out of happiness rather than duty. It makes their kisses so much more innocent, but so much sweeter.
OK – now on to the series. So far, the songs are killer. There haven’t been many, but what impresses me the most is that these are very talented actors who are bringing forth strong voices to the show. I also love that Gu Hye Sun is just terrible at singing, because it makes her transformation that much greater. Case in point: when she finally hits the high notes in Jae Hee’s home. If she is to go up against Kang Hee in terms of talent, then she’s going to have to step up her singing game.
I hate to compare, but it reminds me so much of the Hee Joo-Kyu Won scenario, where Kyu Won is the greener singer, and yet her voice sounds clearer and more pure. Kang Hee has the stronger, richer voice that is beautiful and technically good.
Of all the characters in this drama, I am most intrigued by Yoo Jin. Yes he falls into the cliche of cold-arrogant-chaebol-with-a-family-secret. My money is on the fact that he’s either an illegitimate child, or the child of a black sheep. Mom is dead, and father has disappeared from his life. Park Ki Woong manages to play Yoo Jin with enough subtlety that you know he’s not that perfect of a guy. Even more interesting is the appearance of his father and stepmother, and how they’re such good people to Eun Bi’s family.
If he ends up being less interesting than the vibes I’m getting right now, I’ll be sorely disappointed.
I’m really enjoying this drama for the refreshing characters and their relationships to one another. Just watching Daniel Choi and Goo Hye Sun interact as mentor and mentee is enough to make me go ga-ga.
- The Musical gets picked up for broadcast, finally
- The Musical inches closer toward securing a timeslot
- What’s up, What’s Up?
- The Musical still hanging in production limbo
- The perils of the live-shoot drama system
- Daniel Choi in rehearsals for The Musical
- Newbie actress Ki Eun-sae joins The Musical
- Park Ki-woong joins The Musical
- Gu Hye-sun takes the stage in The Musical