Please do NOT repost anywhere. Thank you
Please do NOT repost anywhere. Thank you
I’ve been wanting to do a write about this trip to Japan but I’ve been still living in Oliver’s world for the past week. It’s a bit hard to put an end to the trip as it brought back so many memories (I’m still dreaming) and everything seems so surreal.
In the last couple of years, many things have changed and he’s changed as well, especially in the way he carries himself in public. I miss the fun, cute and playful Choi Dong Wook that we used to see all the time and I think through the musical this time, he was able to show that side of him again through Oliver.
In the 4 days I was in Tokyo, I saw him a few times (not including seeing him on stage) and he’s still the same guy – full of warmth, thoughtfulness but still so much fun and full of cuteness XD.
I arrived at Sunshine Theatre a couple of hours early on 25th May (Thursday) just in case I wouldn’t be able to find it. But the place was already teeming with fans and posters of the musical were everywhere (even downstairs in Sunshine city).
There was merchandise for sale – the program, badges, thermos cup, postcards etc. If you got the full set, you could get a making dvd. You could also go into the draw to get the making dvd by getting the special set (full set minus a couple of things) or there was the draw for the whole audience each day (20 dvds per performance given out).
I wont go into details about the performance because I already did that but I saw him for the first time this trip after this performance (25th May) at the scheduled high touch session. I think I was not psychologically prepared to meet him yet and as I watched people exit the theatre one by one (he was waiting outside), I felt myself shaking and getting anxious. I hadn’t thought of what to say (I never know what to say) and still couldn’t think of anything creative up to the last moment.
When it finally came to my turn, I saw that he had one hand out for people to high five him as they walked by him. In the past, he would high five people with both hands so that caught me off guard as I had been waiting with two hands. I walked up to him and was holding two hands up, he didnt quite catch that and kept one hand up. So we did a ‘hand grasp’ (XD) and he said, “Ah you came~” (he was expecting me since I told him before I was coming). I said I enjoyed the performance and he said something about go back safely (?). I was so out of it because his hands caught me off guard, so instead of looking at his face, I spent most of those few seconds looking at his hand (at least I managed to hand him my letter!) haha
Next day, I liked the performance more than the previous day and I think that made me even more excited haha. There was also a high touch session scheduled for this day and when it came to my turn, I thought I would ask him to do high touch with both hands (lol, i know I should have just given up). So I gave him my letter first and then we high fived with our right hands. Then I said, can we do it with two hands? He paused for a second then he reached out his left hand and high fived my left hand, criss crossing over my right hand. LOL, it’s hard to explain but it was pretty amusing. You know when you play those hand clapping routines when you were a kid, it reminded me of that. That caught me off guard as well (LOL) and I managed to mumble, you were even better today than yesterday! before I walked off.
I had managed to figure out where to wait for him when he leaves the building and started waiting for him at the exit. There were many other fans waiting. It was slightly confusing which door he was going to come out of so people were spread out across a large space. When he finally came out, there was a bit of a mad rush but I did manage to see his face for a few seconds haha (see below)
On Saturday, Kasy from Thailand finally joined me! Yay! The musical was still lots of fun even the 3rd time. Today I noticed more detail that I hadn’t seen from the 2 previous performances. Today was also the last show that Dongwookie did with Kim Bo Kyung. I really love this pairing!!
After the performance ended, we suddenly found out that Dongwookie had decided to have an unscheduled high touch session!! (Well it was more like him standing there to wave goodbye to each person as they walked through, so no high fiving but our lack of Japanese language skills meant we didn’t know that beforehand haha) I had not expected to be able to see him so I had not written a letter. Luckily we were seated more towards the back this time so I had a little bit of time before it was my turn. I hurriedly got out my letter writing paper and wrote a short quick letter (cant remember what I wrote and my handwriting was atrocious lol).
When our turn came to greet him, Wow from Thailand greeted him first and he put his hands together said thank you in Thai to her. Kasy was next and he kind of greeted Wow and her together. But somehow somewhere in between that, he suddenly said thank you and bye in CHINESE!! We looked at him like “????????????” and he quickly realised that he used the wrong language and the look on his face was priceless!! He looked really confused and had questions marks all over his face as well. He quickly switched to English and said thank you. Then I walked up with him, gave him my letter, and said, do you know what language you’re using now?? XD The three of us walked off laughing so hard! (Later that day, he dm’ed us saying goodbye in chinese using hangul, SO FUNNY!!!!!!!)
After that, we headed to the place where he was supposed to come out and started waiting for him. It took a bit longer for him this day because he was taking photos with 30 lucky fans who had been randomly picked. By the time he came out, there were many fans waiting for him. I managed to get a decent spot and when he saw us, he looked at us and did a ‘V’ with his hand before getting into the car.
Next day was my 4th performance and the last day 😦 Time passes so quickly when you’re having fun. The final performance was an emotional one and when Dongwookie came out for the curtain call, he just started crying. After they went backstage again, the audience cheered more loudly and they came back out again. This time they talked a bit since this was Dongwookie’s and Song Sang Eun’s last performance. Dongwookie was very emotional and started crying again. He said that when he was first offered the role, he thought he wouldn’t be able to do it because it was so hard. But the cast and staff helped him alot. He said he realised he was so happy to have been part of this for the last 3 months (then he started crying). He felt he wasn’t perfect but they practised alot. He thanked the audience for helping him to reach this day. Even though it’s his first musical in Japan, so many people came to see them and he feels he could do anything now. He will continue to try hard and asked fans to continue to support him (rough translation by Yuki. Thanks!)
Watching him cry with my own eyes, in front of me, was an emotional experience. My hands started shaking and when his voice broke as he spoke, my tears just started rolling TTTTTTTTTT So precious! I have alot of blurred photos and a shaky video because of it. This musical was very important to him (his parents even came to watch his first performance) and I feel too that with this, many doors have opened up for him. He really worked hard for this and I felt this especially in the last performance, when it hit me that there were really lots of lines and so much to overcome in the short span of a few months.
Afterwards, there was a final high touch with all 3 members of the cast. My turn came and I gave him a letter, and a tight squeeze with my hand. I said, you really worked hard and I could see that his eyes were still red and puffy from the crying. He said thank you and I went. That was the last time I saw him this trip, since he stayed for the last performance and went for an ending party afterwards.
I left Japan the day after. Before I left, I wrote him a long message and sent it to him via dm. He sent me a very warm message back in Korean (longest msg he’s ever sent me in Korean!) that made me cry when I was eating outside. I’m so glad that I was able to give him some strength and be part of something that was so important to him!
I feel that if I wanted to keep going I could spend some more time reflecting and posting more photos etc but I think it’s time to snap back and return to the real world. I was so thankful for the experience, the catch up with friends, and the encouragement that I got from him!
Where do I even start? It’s been a long time (5 years) since I’ve seen him do anything live, so watching him perform in a musical 4 days in a row is something that will take me quite awhile to digest and reflect upon. But I do really want to introduce this wonderful musical to all of you, and tell you about how significant and amazing of a performance it was by Dongwookie.
To give you a bit of background, “Maybe Happy Ending” is an original Korean production, written by Will Aronson and Hue Park. The original production performed to sold out crowds in Korea with the last performance being in early March, 2017. They decided to bring the musical to Japanese audiences with a totally new cast and with an altered set as well.
I won’t go into the story as I’ve done that in detail down below. This summary got longer and longer as I typed and I found myself translating some dialogue as well. If you could get your hands on all the dialogue it is indeed very funny and entertaining but this will have to do.
This musical explores themes such as longing, fear, hope, and other human emotions – things which are unchanging, within a setting where technology and change has become a way of life. The story is set in the 2nd half of the 21st century and the world is viewed through the eyes of two robots. Love, life, all the beautiful things we experience will disappear in the end. When we realise this, what should we do? That despite this, we should love more? Is it worthwhile to do so even though pain is the result? Knowing all this, will it be a happy ending for us? These are some of the questions which the writers present to the audience.
(Click on each image to enlarge)
SUMMARY & TRANSLATION
I’m a big musical fan but this is the first musical in Korean that I’ve seen so that in itself was a new experience. I didn’t know too much about it before I went in and I deliberately did that so that it wouldn’t ruin my enjoyment of the musical.
As I said, I saw it 4 times, 4 days in a row (that’s a first as well! I’ve watched a musical 4 times but not 4 days in a row!). Double casting for Claire meant that I watched 2 performances with Kim Bo Kyung and 2 performances with Song Sangeun. Personally, I preferred Kim Bo Kyung because she is a stronger actress (I felt she was much more able in complementing Dongwookie’s acting), her voice matched better with him as well and her version of Claire is a much more bubbly character than Song Sangeun’s.
But first impressions first, the 1st performance I watched was with Song Sangeun. Commenting on Dongwookie, I was really blown away by his acting, especially in the first half. As I didn’t see him in Elisabeth, this is really the first time I’ve seen him act since Goong S (haha). I feel bad even making any comparisons between something from 10 years ago to this, because he’s not in the same league anymore. Compared to what I’ve seen of Elisabeth though, this was n times better as well. It’s hard to put in words just how much better his acting is. Like, it was REALLY GOOD. Dongwookie’s Oliver is bright, happy, sensitive, dorky, fun and very very cute. His comedic timing was spot on and he used his body so well. There is hardly any dancing in this, the story is told through singing, acting and lots and lots of dialogue. Not only that, there is no intermission, it goes from beginning to end with no break for 1 hour and 50 minutes. I can understand now why he rejected the offer 3 times, there is so much dialogue! But he pulled it off well and the story just flowed. There were so many times when I was so surprised because I’ve never seen him talk or move that way (that’s the beauty of acting!).
The thing which worried me beforehand was the emotional/sad scenes. He did well though and was convincing (few more tears would have been better?)
Musically, it wasn’t as satisfying for me. I felt there were really no standout songs and nothing particularly came to mind after I watched the 1st performance. By the time I watched it 4 times, some melodies were starting to stick. My favourite numbers were Oliver’s duet with James, and perhaps the song that Oliver and Claire sang just before they reached Jeju Island. I liked them because the harmonies were refreshing and showcased Dongwookie’s voice better than some of his own solo numbers. To be honest, I think the key was a bit too low at times and didn’t sit well with his range.
The other thing which left me a bit unsatisfied was the transition from Oliver finding out about James’ death to him falling in love with Claire. I wish there was more time dedicated to Oliver grieving over James’ death. I wanted to see more of this bond which was so special to Oliver.
Overall this musical was great. It was definitely entertaining, and it’s funny up until the last part. The questions thrown at the audience by the musical might evoke different emotions, thoughts and answers depending on your view of life, your faith or your personality. Many people cried in the end in all 4 performances I watched, although I didn’t myself. As a Christian, I found that it reminded me of True Hope and True Love found only in Christ, so it was a great time of reflection for me.
But whatever your answer or reaction to those deeper questions might be, “Maybe Happy Ending” was a pleasant experience and I’m so glad I watched it!
I reuploaded the photos with links to the HD versions. Please click on each photo to enlarge (some can be zoomed in further after enlarging).
As you can see, it was an emotional ending to this journey for him (and for me!). He cried so much and got so emotional TTTT But he did so well, so much better than expected.