"When I stand here, I forget about the audience at my back. In my head, there's only the performance, the music and the performers of the evening." Kolleen Park is a 44-year-old musical director who became famous nationwide when she led an amateur choir on KBS TV's "Qualifications of Men" last year.
Currently she spends 150 minutes a night in the pit as the conductor for the musical "Aida."
"Aida," the Korean version of Disney's first original Broadway musical rather than the opera, was the most popular show in Korea at the end of last year and topped the booking rankings for December compiled by Interpark.
Park also co-directed the show. One of her responsibilities includes staying as close to the original production as possible. The score has each movement of each actor written out, but Park insists performance is organic. "When you translate English to Korean, there are subtle changes that need to be made, such as where to put an emphasis and how. All of the music, tempo and the feeling should harmonize comfortably on stage to move the audience," she says.
Born to a Korean father who was studying in the U.S. and a Lithuanian-American mother, Park has two elder sisters named Kim and Kelly. "There are only five in my family, but because everyone is living in different parts of the world, we get to see each other only once every few years," she says. When Park visits her sisters in Los Angeles, California, they often stay up all night chatting. "When we meet, we quickly update each other on what we've been doing, everything from business to men, pet dogs and career. When I can't go to the U.S., we designate any country where three of us can meet to get together. Now that we're better off and have more time to spare, we tend to meet in a third country."
The year 2010 was special to her. She appeared in a commercial, and is earning royalties from the book she published. "But I still don't know what has brought it all on," she says. "I'm still in the theater, and I am who I was 10 years ago. I believe it will soon pass. I sometimes joke to myself, wondering why the musical world hasn't given me due recognition."
This year Park will be directing the play "Piaf" and musical "Rent." She is also preparing for another musical about Im Chun-aeng, the woman who pioneered the traditional Korean opera. "My wish for the New Year is that everyone I cherish does good things, and I want to be good to them as well. I don't make resolutions because I'd be disappointed if I didn't live up to them," she says.