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[MUSICAL REVIEW] '200-pound Beauty' heavy on the laughs

2008/12/16 Source

Among the many movicals -- musical adaptations of hit movies -- in Korea, "200 Pounds Beauty" has probably been the most anticipated because of the huge success of the movie.

As it turns out, the musical, now playing, has hit the mark.

It has been singer/actress Choi Seong-hee, aka Bada from former hit girl group S.E.S., who has shined show after show, playing Hanbyeol, the main character. The actress again proved her abilities as a musical singer after starring in "Notre Dame De Paris", through which she made her successful musical debut last year.

Choi presents natural, effortless acting, while blowing the audience away with her powerful vocals.

The show last week began with the 300-pound-plus Hanbyeol being transformed into the perky-looking Choi. The actress skillfully presented the unconfident, introverted and faceless singer Hanbyeol doing silly things that caused constant laughter from the audience.

Later, Choi, back to her normal, slender self, captivated the audience members in a completely different way, belting out popular tunes from the movie, including "Beautiful Girl" and "Maria".

The musical follows the film's plot which focuses on the generally-unattractive Hanbyeol -- played by Kim Ah-joong in the film -- who ghost sings for more beautiful singers. But she later becomes pretty -- and slim -- through heavy plastic surgeries, and even finds love.

The charm of Choi's singing excelled those in the movie. Because of the live setting that is special to the musical genre, the show created a concert-like atmosphere where the crowd stood up and cheered for the actors performing on stage.

The surgery scene, or the transformation scene, which was expected to be difficult to present in the musical version was carried out well -- although it took longer than it did in the film.

Song Chang-eui, a musical actor who played Hanbyeol's secret love, Sangjun, showed his character's thoughtful and warm side compared to the same character in the movie. But his vocals and acting was little awkward from time to time.

The first act generally dragged -- with needless scenes -- particularly, to buy time for the surgery scene. It would have been better to add something -- such as new songs -- that are more unique to the show.

"200-pound beauty" will run through Feb. 1, 2009 at Chungmu Arts Center in Heungin-dong, Seoul. Tickets cost from 40,000 won to 90,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3485-8721.

By Koh Young-aah

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