However, I caught the first episode. Hm. My initial thoughts have been reversed. Episode 2 will determine for me if I keep watching or not.
Gu Hye Sun stars as Go Eun Bi, a medical student who would rather be a musical actress. She even memorizes her bio terms and diseases through song. Caveat: she can’t sing.
Daniel Choi is famed music composer Hong Jae Yi who could have an illustrious career in musicals. Caveat: he refuses to make musical songs because he might bump into his ex, Baek Kang Hee.
Ok Joo Hyun stuns me as musical actress Baek Kang Hee. Her voice is A-MAAAA-ZING. Mysterious background: she seems to be married to a producer/manager/business partner.
Park Ki Woong is Yu Jin, a cold-hearted businessman who sees through Eun Bi’s facade when she pretends to be a boy and audition to be in a male chorus. Caveat: he’s a cold-hearted businessman. Really people? That again? But! Park plays that character well.
So the first episode starts with Eun Bi as a student who lives, wakes, breathes musicals. However, she can’t sing. Even Jae Yi tells her as much, when he is drunk after his arrival back in Seoul. Eun Bi is pissed that some random guy is telling her off, and so she drops out of med school, giving herself one year to make it big on the stage.
She auditions for a male chorus and for the most part is through, but Yu Jin, the investor, sees right through her and kicks her out. He chews her out for auditioning blindly (rather than trying to find out why she failed all those auditions, improve, and learn), and is overheard by a wannabe musical actress Christine/Sa Bok Ja. Sa Bok Ja just returned from the States and proclaims to be a wonderful musical instructor. I don’t buy it, especially since she acts like a hack teacher and, despite her “skills,” is always in the chorus.
Yu Jin’s company is holding a contest for the next “new musical star,” as well as a story/composer/production that his company could back up. The past contests have not produced anything good, so this will be every small production company’s last shot. Gu Jak wants his musical to be produced, but he can’t get his buddy Jae Yi to write a few songs for them. He does get a few actors, one of them being Bok Ja.
Needless to say, Bok Ja gets drunk and develops an intense crush on Jae Yi. Eun Bi has to go to his home to pick her up, and he starts playing a song after hearing that she wants to be a musical actress. She makes up the lyrics as she goes, and mentions about a drunk guy who yelled at her for not being able to sing. Tada! They meet again.
I think this is the serious version of Heartstrings. I’m a little tired of what Kang Hee and Jae Yi’s backstory is going to be because I feel like it’s going to be like Song Chang Ui and So Yi Hyun‘s backstory all over again. I don’t want to go through it again, even if this one plays out better. Heartstrings was all fluffy and full of young romance, whereas this one has more complicated relationships. I already love the fact that Kang Hee and Yu Jin already have their significant others, and THEN Eun Bi and Jae Yi are coming in to the mix. Everyone can stew around before Eun Bi and Jae Yi end up together.
I also REALLY enjoyed the music. The singing is top notch, and I LOVE the fact that Hong Ji Min has a cameo as Eun Bi’s teacher. During one of Eun Bi’s daydreams, Hong Ji Min breaks out into song while teaching anatomy, and it’s just SO AWESOME. There are legit musical singers in this cast, and that’s what makes me excited. Evidence of that can be found here. Just listen to Ok Joo Hyun’s soaring voice as she does her own rendition of Jo Seung Woo‘s song “This is the Moment” for “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” (Original can be found here.) She’s sitting down mind you, and goes on to casually cross her arms as she sings, all to shut up a chorus member who claims that he’s really good at singing this hard, iconic song during his audition.
What also makes me excited is that Gu Hye Sun is terrible. She starts out quite a bad singer, and by the end of the episode she’s improved, but slightly. I think she can be a better singer than this, and so I can’t wait to watch her go through the Ugly Duckling-into-Swan process. (I hope she is a better singer, because if you’re going to compare her with Ok Joo Hyun, then she’s GOT to be good at something.) Interestingly, she’s good at being endearing, but not being too overly sweet about it. There’s still some tomboyish-ness in her, which I never noticed before. The only thing that annoys me is that sometimes I feel like she gives the wrong expression for the feeling she’s trying to convey. When I think she should look sheepish or uncomfortable, she just looks like she’s smiling.
Gu Hye Sun aside, I think what would make me continue watching this drama is Park Ki Woong and Ok Joo Hyun. And, if they can give me more musical numbers, then BRING IT ON! Heartstrings was good, but it delivered less on the “musical” aspect. I think Song Chang Ui should have been in this drama.