Musical 'Four Minutes' helps audience find meaning of life via skilled piano performances - Korea Times
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Musical 'Four Minutes' helps audience find meaning of life via skilled piano performances

A scene from the musical
A scene from the musical "Four Minutes" / Courtesy of National Jeongdong Theater

By Park Ji-won

The musical, "Four Minutes," an adaptation of a 2006 German existentialist drama film by the National Jeongdong Theater, follows the relationship between a piano teacher named Kruger and an inmate called Jenny, aiming to deliver hope and provoke questions in finding the meaning of life through professional piano performances.

Directed by actor-artistic director Yang Joon-mo, written by Gangnam and music composed by Maeng Sung-yeon, "Four Minutes" was made from the award-winning film with the same title which was based on real stories of individuals during the second world war. The movie, "Four Minutes" (2006), which was inspired from a single photograph of Kruger, an 80-year-old woman who devoted her life to giving piano lessons to female inmates in Germany, shows the journey of the two people, the 80-year-old and the 18-year-old Jenny, who isolated themselves from society after being hurt by negative incidents, getting over their past and finding hope through each other via the piano. Kruger ended up helping Jenny's prison escape so that she can perform in a piano competition, which is the highlight of the show.

The musical tries its best to follow the original narrative and characters' emotions with songs, while aiming to show skilled performers and music during the last four minutes.

"I was impressed by the fact that the film is based on a true story. The last four minutes of Jenny's performance was the most powerful scene. We tried our best to show the emotions of the characters in the musical, because it is different from the film which can show it through a close-up on the screen. So, we made the characters' emotions into songs, but we tried our best not to interrupt the drama with the songs," Yang said during a press conference, Tuesday. Yang said he directly contacted the copyright owners of the film and came up with the production.

Performers stressed that the play may help audiences think about the meaning of life.

Actress Kim Sun-kyung, who plays Kruger, said, "I may have become a better person if I was able to meet a teacher like Kruger. But after participating in the musical and learning about the characters, I realized that if you cherish your talent, it might give you a reason to live and also reward you. I think you don't have to have a big reason to live. I hope audiences can find out that the meaning of life is near me and inside me."

Actress Kim Hwan-hee, who plays Jenny, said, "I keep asking myself about the meaning of life. I hope audiences also ask themselves that question."

To add realism to the musical, actresses who play Jenny, had to learn how to play piano for six months before the show. Professional pianists, Oh Eun-chul and Cho Jae-chul actually play the piano during the highlights of the show.

The musical is being performed at the National Jeongdong Theater until May 23.

Actresses of the musical
Actresses of the musical "Four Minutes" pose during a press conference held at the National Jeongdong Theater, Seoul, Tuesday. From left are actresses Kim Sun-young, who plays Kruger, Kim Hwan-hee, who plays Jenny, Kim Su-ha, who plays Jenny, and Kim Sun-kyung, who plays Kruger. Courtesy of National Jeongdong Theater
Park Ji-won jwpark@koreatimes.co.kr


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