Although Las Vegas may be described as the city of opportunity, a casino is not a safe bet.
Very few folks ends up getting something for nothing. Far more leave the casino in ruin, like the young business traveler in the ongoing musical "Gambler" (LG Arts Center).
It's a common subject, but the mesmerizing lights and glowing lines of slot machines, when combined with super-sexy showgirls and plenty of liquor play with the mind of even the most discerning businessperson.
In the musical written by Eric Woolfson - best known here as the lead singer, songwriter and executive producer of the British progressive rock band Alan Parsons Project - Boss (Heo Joon-ho
) is the manager of "Baghdad Casino", a huge money-sucking temple of desire located in Vegas.
Heo, the star of hit films "Silmido
" (2003) - the first Korean film to sell more than 10 million tickets - and "A Petal"
(1996), is far better known for his film work than his stage acting. The role of the omniscient, modern reincarnation of Mephistopheles, which he originally played for the local premiere of this musical in 1999, is definitely the biggest achievement on his stage resume. He returned to the musical Tuesday and will continue in the role until Aug. 3.
Clad in a black leather jacket and tights, the actor who majored in modern dance at the Seoul Institute of the Arts proves that action speak louder than words even in musicals.
Contrasting with his masculine, charismatic facial expressions and voice, his silky, elegant movements add the image of irresistible evil to his role.
His singing ability, which will come as a pleasant surprise to those who know him only as a film star, is a definite plus for the show, as well. His sometimes demonically adrenaline-charged - other times sad and sweet - voice is an ideal vehicle for Woolfson's work, as 14 of his songs are used in the musical. They include "Eye in the Sky", "Time ", and "Games People Play".
The story of passion, addiction and seduction revolves around him and the young gambler (Lee Geon-myeong), who initially visits the casino out of curiosity. In an attempt to entice him to gamble, Boss uses Showgirl (Bae Hye-seon), an attractive, kind-hearted dancer, with whom he falls for immediately.
Lee (" I Love You " and "Aida") depicts well how vanity can turn an ordinary - even nerdy - office worker into a self-centered, near-sighted slave of money. In fact, the show's highlight comes from the stark difference in the images of Heo and Lee - the two heroes of the musical - did more to turn the modest-sized theater into a real casino than the stage set and special effects.
Like the young gambler, many people justify their endless search for money by thinking that it is only a means to make something more meaningful come true - love, for example. It is often too late that they realize that money has become their boss.
This seemingly materialistic musical provides us with valuable insight into life's lessons in a very friendly and persuasive way. Ticket prices for "Gambler" range between 40,000-120,000 won. For more information, call (02) 577-1987.
By Lee Yong-sung