All eyes on Kim during rehearsal for ‘Mozart!’ musical starting its second round
Namsan Creative Center in Yejang-dong, central Seoul, was jammed with about 200 people on Wednesday when musical “Mozart!” opened its practice room to press and fans.
Though there were no ardent fans screaming or waving placards, it was obvious by the direction the cameras were flashing in that most were there to see one particular actor, Kim Jun-su.
The JYJ K-pop group member would have easily garnered the press anyway, but his popularity has further skyrocketed since he stepped into the musical scene. He is one of the few idol star-turned-musical actors who are successful.
The musical “Mozart!” which tells the life of the legendary musician through musical genres including rock and jazz, set an impressive record by attracting more than 100,000 audience members during its first short run of about a month in Seoul last year.
All tickets were sold out and the musical took home 11 local musical awards at the end of the year. At the heart of the fever was Kim, a former member of boy band TVXQ, who drew thousands of his fans to the theater.
The 15 shows that he starred in were the ones that were completely sold out within three hours of ticket sales. Scalped tickets were sold online for as much as three million won. Tickets to his second musical, “Tears of Heaven,” in which he starred as a Korean soldier earlier this year, were all sold out as well.
Because his “ticket-power” is currently unbeatable, his guarantee fee is known to have been around 35 million won per show for the first round of “Mozart!” topping that of most veteran musical actors.
“I actually just wanted to do one musical per year. Now is a busy time for me, but I badgered my agency to let me do this because it is ‘Mozart!’ This is something much more than just a musical,” said Kim, who is also currently on a world tour with JYJ.
Kim is taking the role of Mozart again for the second round of the musical which will take place from May 24 to July 3 at Seongnam Art Center Opera House in Yatab-dong, Gyeonggi Province. Three more actors ― veteran musical actor Im Tae-gyung and up-and-coming stars Park Eun-tae and Jeon Dong-seok ― will be sharing the role.
Decked in a fancy red Mozart’s coat, Kim sang one of the musical numbers, “Why Don’t You Love Me,” in front of the press and fans on Wednesday.
His voice was rather soft without a microphone, but there was something that seemed to draw in the listeners ― perhaps the boyish coarseness in his voice and his unadorned, surprisingly quick immersion into the character.
Musical insiders and critics say that Kim’s vocal and dance skills honed during his long training period to debut as TVXQ and his experiences of performing in front of hundreds and thousands of people is paying off.
“I called him a musical prodigy during the last ‘Mozart!’ This time, I think he has reached the stage of a genius. Although he only recently started musicals, he could not be any quicker in learning it,” said Yu Hee-seong, director of the musical.
Kim said that “Mozart!” helped him make a comeback after the TVXQ scandal. Kim and two other members of TVXQ ― Park Yoo-chun, Kim Jae-joong ― filed a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment over their 13-year contract in July 2009 and formed a new group, JYJ, together.
“It helped me come out to the world, and had me welcomed by the audience again. Looking at videos of the last show, I spotted some unsatisfying parts that I did not realize at the time. I will work hard to present a more mature and perfect performance this time,” said Kim.
EMK Musicals, the producer of the musical, expects tickets to sell out immediately, like last time. The company is opening ticket sales for shows starring Kim at 10 a.m. on May 24, an hour earlier than for other shows.
Although some point out that the Kim Jun-su craze is only temporary, as it relies on his fans, musical insiders say that it could bring positive results for the musical industry by expanding its audience base to the younger generation.
Written by Michael Kunze and music by Sylvester Levay, the musical “Mozart!” premiered at Theater An Der Wien in Vienna, Austria in 1999. Some lyrics have been changed and songs rearranged from last year’s show for the upcoming production.
The musical will run from May 24 to July 3 at Seongnam Art Center Opera House in Yatab-dong in Gyeonggi Province. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 13,000 won. For more information, call (02) 6391-6333 or visit http://www.musicalmozart.co.kr.
By Park Min-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)