Actor Cho Seung-woo
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Top actor Cho Seung-woo will join the new musical “Doctor Zhivago” as a male lead.
Initially, model-turned-actor Ju Ji-hun was cast for the role of Russian doctor Yuri Zhivago whose life is shaken by the Russian Revolution and Civil War in the early 20th century. However, he quit the position due to problems with his vocal chords, forcing OD Musical Company, the production firm, to look for a replacement two weeks before the opening.
“People might see me as a relief pitcher or replacement, but for now Yuri Zhivago is my role,” Cho said at a press conference.
Cho just finished his latest show “Zorro” Sunday and leaked his appearance in Doctor Zhivago at the curtain call for his last performance, hinting that he would “bring Russia to Jamsil,” where the theater is located.
The surprise choice was put down to the friendship between Cho and Shin Chun-soo, producer and CEO of OD Musical Company. The company has staged many hit musicals including “Jekyll and Hyde,” which Cho starred in
“The production was facing difficulties as Ju withdrew from the show. After thinking about it overnight I decided to ask Cho to take on the role of Zhivago,“ Shin said. “I have known Cho for years and knew he chooses works based on the artistic quality of the musical. It is absurd to ask an actor to play the role he had already refused, but I could ask again because it was Cho.”
Shin said the production has an understudy, but he thought it would be best to have another actor to play the lead role for the five-month run. “I think it is almost miraculous to hold this press conference and introduce Cho as the new Zhivago.”
“Frankly speaking, I thought Shin was off his rocker when I got a call from him (to join Doctor Zhivago),” the actor said. “Wondering why Shin asked me, I visited the rehearsal room the next day without contacting him. When I saw other actors rehearsing, I was moved by them. I then thought Shin was confident in Zhivago and was somewhat infatuated by his challenging spirit.”
Cho said he saw a video clip of the Australian production of the musical and was fascinated by the music and speedy scene changes which seemed boring in the script. “I was fascinated by the musical as if I was Yuri Zhivago in the vortex of the Russian Revolution,” he said.
The show will open on Jan. 27 at the Charlotte Theater in southern Seoul and run through June 3. The company said Hong Kwang-ho, another actor cast for Zhivago, would cover the show alone until Cho joins the show. It also cancelled six performances since he cannot perform nine shows a week.
Cho said exact date of his first performance will be announced later, but it usually takes about four to six weeks for him to rehearse.
Credit: The Korea Times