Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun is looking for “Dad”. As a well-made jukebox musical that incorporates the group ABBA’s hit songs, [“Mamma Mia!”‘s] popularity domestically has not cooled off, and has been performed since 2004. On stage in February of this year, Seohyun will appear as the bright and adorable daughter Sophie, who secretly sends a wedding invitation to “3 men from Mom’s past, who are potential biological Dads” before her wedding. Previously taking the roles of Yeonwoo in the musical “Moon That Embraces the Sun” and Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”, Seohyun shows a new side of her; it’s not “an affair of an idol”, but she said, “A new world opened up to me and going inside of it makes me so happy”. She is a rookie actor who has devoted her body and heart to musicals. Through Sophie, whom she will soon transform into, she said, “You will be able to see a shocking appearance,” so we are looking forward even more to this piece and to this actor.
Q: The “Mamma Mia!” press conference just ended.
A: Can’t you feel the bright atmosphere? (Laughs) The piece itself is very bright, so the mood during practice is very good, and I think it’s a piece that makes your energy run high. So even if I go to practice tired after a hectic schedule, I feel like I’m receiving energy.
Q: All of the actors playing the Moms and Mom’s friends are all actors we’re familiar with, so the mood must be even more familiar and joyful. But as a person newly joining a production, it must take some getting used to.
A: My current disposition and this piece are so well-matched. What’s fascinating is, except for the first day of practice, it has been so comfortable. On the first day, I was like, “(Quietly) Hello, I’m Seohyun,” but after that, I would greet by saying “(Loudly) Hello!” (Laughs) My personality tends to be that if I become close, I have no reservations, so I think it suits me well. Very, ve~ry well. (Laughs)
Q: In the past, the Seohyun the general public saw was very calm and was someone who diligently took care of her image, so it’s surprising that you’re saying this rambunctious mood suits you well? (Laughs)
A: My normal personality is very bright. When I’m with people I’m close with, I’m even brighter. There are many sides to a person, so I do have a calm side, but my bright side comes out more. I think I can maximize the brightness inside of me, even more.
Q: There must have been a lot of love calls (Translator’s note: being scouted for roles) for various pieces. What’s the reason you wanted to do “Mamma Mia!” so much so that you created Donna’s diary yourself when you auditioned (Editor’s note: Donna is Sophie’s mother in the musical. Sophie uses the diary to find out which men could possibly be her biological father)?
A: I’m still a rookie, so there are so many pieces I want to do. One of them was “Mamma Mia!”, and I felt I could express and play the role of Sophie well at my current age. I really wanted to do it. I had an opportunity to audition, so I really had a lot of fun preparing for it. I still have Donna’s diary. (Laughs)
Q: Sophie and Seohyun, what are your similarities and differences?
A: I think our basic dispositions are similar. Namely, the fact that we both have a lot of curiosity. To everyone I work with, even the staff at the skin clinic, or to the hair and makeup unnies, I ask, “So why is this like this? Why is it like that?” on a daily basis. So they say that when Seohyun comes, they get nervous. (Laughs) I can’t stand it if there’s something I’m curious about. I need to understand why, and that personality is similar to Sophie’s. The difference is our situations. I know who my dad is. (Laughs)
Q: Sophie has an absurd side to her that makes her secretly send wedding invitations to potential dads without her mom knowing. Have you ever acted provocatively like that?
A: When I was young, my father smoked cigarettes, and I hated it so much. I didn’t want him to smoke, so I put all of the cigarettes in my mouth. I thought it was a way of getting rid of them all by myself? (Laughs) After seeing that, my father was so surprised. (Laughs) After that, he never smoked. I still remember it well. [The cigarettes] were bitter. (Laughs)
Q: More than “Moon That Embraces the Sun” or “Gone with the Wind”, which you worked on previously, “Mamma Mia!” is a piece that is more dynamic, even in choreography.
A: It’s more tiring than Girls’ Generation dances. (Laughs) In other pieces, by the time the performance ends, the energy level is reduced; but with this piece, by the time it ends, the energy level is at its highest. You dance a lot before, but even at curtain call, you have to hop around dancing to three songs. At first, I couldn’t get used to it. “Ah, what do I do?” You have to sing too. Not just dance. But after doing it a few times, it’s a lot of fun, so I can keep going. I think the most important thing right now is maintaining my fitness. I’ll need to do more personal training and run more. I think I’ll need to run while singing. (Laughs) I think that I will need to control my breathing.
Q: How do you maintain your fitness?
A: I try to be consistent with cardio exercises. I do Pilates too, but these days, I haven’t been consistent because I’ve been busy. I always have a running machine at home. I do cardio and sing.
Q: You’ve been known for frequently interacting with Ock Juhyun.
A: Juhyun unnie is my role model. I think I’ve watched all of her performances. Even before that, when I’d watched musicals, I’d think, “Ah, it’s fun,” but after watching unnie’s performance, I was shocked. I thought, “How can a person do that?” and “How can a world like this exist?” After watching unnie’s performances, I think I liked musicals even more. Unnie is a role model and a teacher I’m thankful for, someone who opened a new world for me.
Q: When you meet, you must have a lot of stories to tell.
A: She listens to my concerns often, and comes to see my performances. She comes to my house in the early morning and says, “Fix that like this.” (Laughs) She influences me a lot, and she’s a really good, teacher-like unnie. If I see unnie’s performances, there’s so much for me to learn. Since I was young, she has felt like a very reliable protector to me.
After watching unnie’s performances, my standards have become so high that when I see regular performances, I’m not as inspired. (Laughs) When I went to New York, I thought that if it’s a Broadway performance, they would all be good, but I was a bit disappointed. What I felt watching it was that I must be an actor with a sense of responsibility. I had a lot of thoughts like that.
Unnie takes care of herself very, very well, not only on stage, but normally. She cannot catch a cold, and must maintain her top condition. She makes no compromises with herself, because even if it’s her hundredth or thousandth performance, there’s always an audience member who is watching for the first time. When she starts her performances, she doesn’t really meet with people and doesn’t even make calls. To save her voice. She mostly texts. I think it’s really amazing. I very much want to be like her.
Q: Before starring in musicals, you talked often about musicals in several interviews. Why do you like musicals so much?
A: I like them, but there’s no “this is exactly why I like it”. They just always make me happy. When I watch a musical, I’m happy that there is a new world, and when I’m in a piece and I can go into that world, I really think I am ve~ry happy and wouldn’t want anything more. When I first did musicals, there were a lot of difficulties. The vocalization itself is different, the way you use your body is different, and the acting is different from acting on camera. But I understood why people do musicals. I didn’t do incredibly well in the musical, but I think it was the first time I felt alive. After doing musicals, my life has changed. I became excited more easily, and I feel that the depth to which I can enjoy life has changed. I really like it, and I’m so happy.
Q: “Mamma Mia!” is famous for ABBA’s hit songs. What is your favorite number?
A: “Thank You for the Music”. The melody is so good, and I can really relate to the lyrics. I’m thankful that music exists — I often have thoughts like this. Normally, I always play music. Through music, the air changes, and so do my condition and thoughts. I’m thankful for music, and I really like listening to this song. It’s really my favorite number.
Q: Three actors ([the other two are] Park Jiyeon, Kim Geumna) will take turns playing Sophie. What does “Seohyun’s Sophie” look like?
A: She won’t be a Sophie that is forcefully created. There are a lot of similarities between the character and myself, so I think I will be a Sophie who can bring those similarities to life, in a refreshing way. Fresh and refreshing, and perhaps a bit shocking. (Laughs) I’m good at wrecking myself. (Laughs) In my normal life, there’s a lot of that, so it’s really exciting. Now I can take off [the façade]! (Laughs)
Q: Do you have one last thought for the future audience of “Mamma Mia!”?
A: More than any other time, I’m confident that I can do my best. With that sense of responsibility, I want to show that I’m an actor you can place your trust in, and I want to show that even more through Sophie this time. Please come see it! I will deliver all of my energy to you on stage! (Laughs)
Translated by: SonexStella@soshified
Edited by: moonrise31@soshified
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