“If one stands on stage, no one can stop you until the performance ends.”
These are the words of actor Ji Chang Wook, who is playing the role of Mu-Yeong in the musical “The Days”. That’s right. Even if the director has the temper of a tiger, once the performance begins, he is merely a member of the audience. That’s why musicals and theatre are known as the “art of an actor”.
In “The Days”, Ji Chang Wook portrays Mu-Yeong fairly well. Although I did not see him act in the first run of the musical, I think his acting would probably have improved in the re-run. Because Ji Chang Wook’s acting can be said to have grown to another level through the drama “Empress Ki”.
The Mu-Yeong in “The Days” is a person whom you know, but yet unfamiliar at the same time. The only information about Mu-Yeong given to the audience is the fact that he lost his parents at a young age. How he ended up becoming a bodyguard at the presidential house is not revealed in the musical either.
Behind the bright smile and humour, you can only guess that he probably has another face that is hidden from us. Therefore, it is hard to show to the audience why Mu-Yeong was able to fall in love so quickly with a woman who had no relation to him, and how his love was so noble that he was even able to sacrifice his life for that short romance.
The part that could not be completely addressed by Jang Yoo Jung’s playwriting and Kim Gwang Seok’s music definitely lies with Mu-Yeong.
But Ji Chang Wook gave an excellent and vivid portrayal of such a complex character like Mu-Yeong with agile movements and with the air and look in his eyes as though he was in such deep pain. From the way he looked at the woman he loved, to how he got angry when he found out that she was in danger, and how he reunited with his best friend after many years had past; he was able to portray all these in a very comfortable and natural way.
This whole process was not without feelings. Hence, one can easily understand his sacrifice.
Ji Chang Wook once said, “I tried hard not to fall into the trap of having to be different from the first run”. Of course, Ji Chang Wook’s Mu-Yeong is definitely not the same as the one in the first run last year. Ji Chang Wook said that while practising for the re-run, he was influenced by Kim Seung Dae who is playing the same role of Mu-Yeong. From Kim Seung Dae, he was able to see a style of expression that he had never thought of before.
But that’s not all. Ji Chang Wook’s Mu-Yeong is created through Ji Chang Wook’s own analysis. Lee Geon Myung, who plays the role of Jung Hak, once described Ji Chang Wook as “an actor who has a way of expression that is somewhat unusual”.
Ji Chang Wook said, “Even if it’s the same expression, I always wonder if it’s possible to make it more interesting and effective”. Even as he absorbs the positive points of his seniors like a sponge, Ji Chang Wook is an actor who is always analysing and thinking about a style of his own.
This time, I really enjoyed watching “The Days”. The chemistry between Lee Geon Myung who played Jung Hak and Ji Chang Wook as Mu-Yeong was natural, and more importantly, Kim Gwang Seok’s music was good and matched very well with the different episodes in the story. Just by looking at the look in the eyes and the movements of the actors who starred in the first run, you can probably tell how much they love this production.
Furthermore, Ji Chang Wook’s singing was much better than expected. His sense of volume was not lacking either. Although he may be lacking in technique, his natural style of projecting his voice without any embellishment was very comfortable to listen to instead. Veteran actor Lee Gyeon Myung even said, “I’m also singing with all my strength in order not to lose out to this young friend”.
Despite that, he still seems to feel inadequate. He claims to have a yearning like musicians do. He says he wants to sing a little better. Although he currently has no time to learn or practise singing apart from musicals and drama, he intends to study it seriously when he has some free time in the future.
It will be good if we can see actor Ji Chang Wook on stage for a long long time. Because it is not easy to find an actor who can express 20 different lines with one look in his eyes.
Translated from Korean to English by Gabby.
Reporter Yang Hyung Mo’s blog