Popular girl group T-ara’s 2011 retro-heavy hit single “Roly Poly” is back ― only this time as a stage musical with the same nostalgic flash of the 1970s and ‘80s.
Three members of the girl group ― Jiyeon, Hyomin and Soyeon ― are starring as reckless teenagers in Korea’s 1980s in upcoming musical “Roly Poly,” teamed up with older-generation heavyweights including popular musical actress Park Hae-mi and “Nagasu” star singer Jang Hye-jin.
Even before the official opening, however, the show has been accused of plagiarism by many netizens online. The main plot of the musical, which features four middle-aged high school friends who reunite at a mutual friend’s funeral and reminisce about their school days, resembles last year’s popular retro flick “Sunny.”
To this, the show’s producer Hwang Gyu-hak said the retro concept of “Roly Poly” was set earlier than the one of “Sunny,” and it’s simply “absurd” to say the musical plagiarized the film.
“Director Kang Hyung-suk of ‘Sunny’ watched my retro-themed musical “Really Really Like You” before starting shooting his film,” Hwang told reporters during a press conference promoting the upcoming show, in central Seoul, Wednesday. “I’m the one who first came up with this nostalgic concept of the 70s and 80s.”
|T-ara members Hyomin (far left) and Soyeon (far right) pose with musical actress Park Hae-mi (second from left) and singer Jang Hye-jin (second from right) during a press conference promoting their upcoming musical “Roly Poly” in central Seoul, Wednesday. (Theatro)
In the show, T-ara members Jiyeon and Hyomin share the role of Joo-young, a troubled teenager who grew up in an orphanage, while other member Soyeon stars as Hyeon-joo, a jealous, egocentric young woman whose wealthy father owns a nightclub. Joo-young later becomes a dutiful wife and mother, while Hyeon-joo ends up as an obscure nightclub singer. The idol members are making their debut as musical actresses through the show.
“Our single ‘Roly Poly’ was a huge success thanks to our fans last year, and we really feel honored to have it made into a musical,” Soyeon, the leader of the girl group, said during the conference.
Soyeon, whose Hyeon-joo suffers unrequited love in the show, said she’s also had many secret crushes while growing up.
“Oh, I’ve had lots of those crushes,” said the girl group member during the press conference. “I had them on boys at my church and my school.”
Musical actress Park Hae-mi, who last year starred as the once-flamboyant but wearily aging cat Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary musical “Cats,” is starring as the present-day Hyeon-joo, who sings at shabby nightclubs in the countryside.
“The best thing about this homegrown musical is that it really is our story,” Park told reporters. “So it’s easy for me to act, and it’s easy for the viewers to watch.”
Sharing Park’s role is singer Jang Hye-jin, who enjoyed much popularity back in the 90s with her reflective ballad music ― including the 1994 hit “To Me” and 1997 single “Dialog of Dream.” She once again rose to prominence recently, by appearing on MBC TV’s popular music show “Nagasu” (I Am a Singer). As with the T-ara members, this is her first foray into the musical scene.
“I’ve always been interested in musicals, and I really appreciate this opportunity to try it out for the first time,” Jang told reporters. “The musical features a lot of popular music of the 80s, and I expect our viewers to be motivated to seek out their long-lost friends after watching the show.”
The musical numbers include Stevie Wonder’s 1969 song “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday,” Madonna’s 1984 hit “Like a Virgin,” Carpenters’ 1970 song “Close to You” and T-ara’s “Roly Poly,” whose music video concept was the basis of the show.
The show runs from Jan.13 to Feb. 25 at Seongnam Arts Center’s Opera House. Tickets range from 77,000 won to 110,000 won. For tickets and information, call 1577-3363.
By Claire Lee
Credit: The Korea Herald