[Economy Today, Reporter Gwak Min Gu]
“If you see me as Choa from Crayon Pop on stage, it means that I have failed.”
Crayon Pop member Choa plays the main character Princess Deokhye, as well as her daughter Jeonghye in “Last Princess”, a musical produced to celebrate Korea’s 70th anniversary of independence.
Deokhye, the last princess of the Korean Empire, was forcefully taken to Japan as a hostage and abandoned from both nation and family. Due to the stressful circumstances, Deokhye began to suffer from dementia. She eventually married Count Takeyuki, a Japanese nobleman, and gave birth to Jeonghye, who grew up conflicted by her Korean and Japanese identities.
There is a huge difference between performing as a K-Pop idol and performing as a musical actress, and they both have different types of challenges. When asked why she chose to act in “Last Princess”, Choa said, “I was looking for a new challenge, and I found it in musical acting. There were a few musicals that I wanted to audition for, and ‘Last Princess’ was among them. After watching some videos, Princess Deokhye struck me as a difficult and tough character faced with many challenges. Crayon Pop faced many challenges as a group too, and I was tempted to express them through the musical.”
When Choa was deciding whether or not to audition for “Last Princess”, most of the reactions she received were dissuasive. Since every breath and sound made in a small theatre can be heard, the wide range of characters and expressions make it a very big challenge. “Even my close friends recommended me to try musical acting later because of the work I have now. Because of this, it made me want to perform even more. Only my mom and sister Way supported me and gave me the confidence to perform in ‘Last Princess’”, Choa recalls.
“The more characters to play, the more demanding the roles”. It was clear that it would not be an easy task for Choa to play both the roles of Deokhye and Jeonghye. Despite this burden, Choa seemed brave and unshaken.
“Sometimes I thought, ‘This character is so difficult’, or ‘I might regret this’. However, I decided to persevere. It was very difficult since I had to balance my rehearsals with my Crayon Pop schedule. However, I do not think that I will regret making this decision. Even now, I believe that I made the right choice.”
Crayon Pop’s ‘FM’ promotions overlapped with rehearsals for ‘Last Princess’, and this was a big concern for Choa, who did not get much sleep because of her roles in both activities. “I personally apologized to many people because they had to work around my schedule. Once, after shooting the music video for ‘FM’, I found a practice room to rehearse for the musical because of the lack of time. Fortunately, I was under the guidance of Hyeyoung sunbae (a senior musical actress who is also playing the role of Princess Deokhye), who taught me a great deal about acting. I am really happy to have learned so much. Even though I can spend 12 hours practicing, I enjoyed the rehearsals so much that I never felt time pass”, Choa said while smiling.
The hardest part when idol singers perform in musicals is usually the vocals. However, in Choa’s case, her singing style was well-received. If so, what was the greatest challenge that Choa faced? “I had to practice my acting skills much harder than my vocals. From portraying a young Jeonghye to an old Princess Deokhye, as well as imitating a Japanese accent and acting insane, there was a wide range of characters that I had to express. Also, since we only had 1 hour 40 minutes for the performance, we had to change clothes very quickly, just like in a fashion show. Although it was not easy, the process was interesting and fun,” Choa said.
That is not an easy challenge. Choa wanted to show an unfamiliar side, that of the actress Heo Min Jin. It will probably take many more performances in the future for her to accomplish this goal that she had set.
“I want to show people a different side of me as an actress. It would be a failure if the audience members saw me as Choa from Crayon Pop. Fortunately, I read many positive reviews online about my performances. In particular, Crayon Pop fans did not expect a big change in my character. After the first performance, they were really shocked and surprised. Some even said, ‘This is totally not the Choa we know!’ When I heard that, I thought to myself, yes I did succeed. Haha.”
After watching Choa’s first performance, her fellow Crayon Pop members had very similar reactions to the fans. In particular, Geummi became a huge fan of the actress Heo Min Jin. “All the members were very surprised; Geummi-unnie cried, while Soyul was embarrassed that she cried as well. At the hostel, they continued to praise me and showed me a recording of the performance. They even wanted to watch the show again,” Choa said as she recounted the reactions from the other members.
Choa describes the musical stage as “the best playground”, a space where people can have fun by acting, dancing, and singing. “I enjoy living as other people on stage. Thus, I am very thankful and glad for the opportunity to act in musicals”. Choa continues, “I’m especially happy and appreciative when I make other people happy as well,” hinting that she has a strong affection for acting on stage in musicals.
“I want to be as charming as my seniors, but there isn’t any particular musical actor or actress that I want to be like. I just want to be a musical actress with my own charm. If I work hard enough, the day will come when audience members will know the actress ‘Heo Min Jin’, and will want to watch musicals because of my performances. There is no rush though; I will work hard and take my time to learn while enjoying the entire process.”
The musical will run until the 28th of June at the SH Art Hall in Daehakro.
Source: GyeongJae Today