Home > Lifestyle > People
Tuesday September 17, 2013 MYT 6:35:00 PM
Tuesday September 17, 2013 MYT 6:44:32 PM
by claire lee
Shin Hae-ji won the plum role based on the home-made video she sent in of her performing two of Kim's songs. – The Korea Herald
Young musical singer Shin Hae-ji to play Vietnamese protagonist Kim in Chicago shows.
CHATTY and bubbly in person, emerging New York-based musical singer Shin Hae-ji (Shawna Haeji Shin) reminds one of Glinda, the popular blonde witch in Wicked.
Yet the 27-year-old South Korean is playing a character that’s quite the opposite of Glinda in the United States next month. She is making her debut as Kim, the tragic heroine of the popular musical Miss Saigon, scheduled to premiere at the Paramount Theatre in Chicago on Oct 30 (it runs until Nov 24).
After starring in just three shows, Rent A White Guy, Talent 101 and The King And I, in the US, she won the role by sending video footage of her singing Kim’s main numbers: The Sun And Moon and I’d Give Up My Life For You.
“I shot the video myself, at my own place,” Shin said during an interview in Seoul. “I would move the curtains as Kim would onstage, wearing a dress that has a Vietnamese feel to it. I never had an interview with the director. It was just the video that won me the role.”
Born and raised in Busan, Shin flew to New York after graduating from Ewha Womans University’s vocal music programme in Seoul. She majored in musical theatre at New York University’s graduate school.
“I’ve always wanted to be a musical singer,” said Shin, who is also capable of operatic vocals. “I studied vocal music because I was told that it is the basis of musical theatre. I went abroad to study in New York because I was always very confused about the two genres. I wasn’t too clear on what the difference between the two was.”
During the audition for her NYU admission, she was asked to sing I Don’t Know How To Love Him, a famous number from the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, on top of an aria from Verdi’s opera La Traviata.
“The opera aria was easy, and it went by quickly,” Shin said. “But when I started singing I Don’t Know How To Love Him, the judges stopped me and asked why I was ‘shouting’ so much. Then they asked me to sing Tonight from the musical West Side Story in my head voice. I did what I was asked to, and I think they accepted me because they thought I could change and develop into a musical singer.”
Based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, Shin’s upcoming show Miss Saigon tells the tragic tale of a Vietnamese woman who is abandoned by her American lover during the Vietnam War. Shin said her lonely first few months in the US helped her understand Kim.
“Playing Kim (the protagonist) is a challenge because she and I are very different,” Shin said.
“I am very responsive and get excited easily. Kim, on the other hand, needs time to process things. She is reserved and enduring. So I try to think from her perspective.
“She lost her parents to the war, has gone through a lot and desperately wants security and protection. For her, her American lover was her everything. For her lover Chris, Kim didn’t mean the world to him. The spark was just something special that happened during the war in a foreign country.”
Shin, whose dream role in musical theatre is in fact Glinda in Wicked, said she is also interested in doing opera.
“At NYU, one professor would teach vocal music and musical theatre at the same time,” she said. “In Korea, there is still this perception that vocal music is the superior genre (compared to the musical theatre). I hope to establish a system where the two genres can co-exist and complement each other.” – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
Tags / Keywords:
Lifestyle, Shin Hae-ji, Miss Saigon, musical, Kim, US, Chicago, South Korean
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)