Ock Joo-hyun: Growing into Aida

      July 01, 2005 13:49

      Ock Joo-hyun

      Two controversies surround the Disney musical Aida before the curtain has even gone up. One is the confusion the title causes among fans of the Verdi opera of the same name, and the other involves the casting of signer Ock Joo-hyun in the lead.

      Since it was announced in January, she has been dogged by criticism that her selection is nothing more than "star marketing," and that while she can sing, her acting leaves much to be desired. With two months remaining before the Elton John-Tim Rice musical hits the stage, we met with Ock at a rehearsal studio in Seoul's Cheongdam-dong.

      Q: You auditioned without even your agent knowing...

      A: I did it secretly because I didn't want to hear people talk about me as a well-known singer actually having to audition. I was afraid rumors might spread. When I went, I borrowed a size 105 wind breaker from my manager and pulled down the hood to my nose. But the rumors spread anyway.

      Q: Why Aida?

      A: When I went to New York in 2003 for voice lessons, I saw the musical with Toni Braxton. It left such a big impact that I decided I had to do it one day. I bought the score and CD, but it seems that "one day" came pretty quickly.

      Q: What impact did it leave?

      A: Thinking that I'll play the role of Princess Amneris, many people say, "You wanted to wear the spectacular outfit, did you?" It's not that. Aida has just three changes of costume. When I took vocal lessons, my teacher said I might be Asian but my voice had the timbre and soul of an African American. Aida is dignified. She has charisma and can sing. I've done a lot of flashy stuff so far, so I wanted to try something different.

      Q: They say the success of Aida depends on you.

      A: It's a burden. Aida drives the whole musical. Because I'm greedy, and I think my body will wear out. It's because once I've bitten, I don't easily let go, like a shark.

      Q: How are you rehearsing?

      A: I'm still practicing the script, mostly. I've come to realize that acting is using your head. And my head's not all that great. When I drive, I try to memorize the music. I don't just hum, but sing like I'm really singing, so when there's a red light, people are surprised and stare at my car, leaving me really embarrassed."

      Q: Your preparations?

      A: I'm losing hair, perhaps because of the stress. I also have nightmares that I get on stage and can't remember my lines. After this musical, I want to do a charming love story, and when I get past 30, I'd like to do a big role like "The Last Empress." I also want to do "Chicago," which features a lot of dancing.

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