BWW Review: A Journey to the Happiest Moments of Your Life, THE STORY OF MY LIFE at Baekam Art Hall
As the lights of the audience dim out, the audience on the first floor can hear small footsteps behind them. As the footsteps come closer, voices of children ring out and break the silence. 'People say nice things when you die.' 'They call it a eulogy.' 'Hey, I'll do yours if you do mine!' 'How's that going to work?' 'Oh, right... How about whichever comes first? Deal?' 'If I say yes, can I go?' 'Yes.'
The musical that many Korean theatergoers love came back for its fifth run. THE STORY OF MY LIFE is a musical with music and lyrics written by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill. This musical debuted at the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto in 2006 and also had its Broadway premiere in 2009, starring Will Chase as Thomas Weaver and Malcom Gets as Alvin Kelby. The Korean premiere of THE STORY OF MY LIFE produced by OD Company was in 2010, casting Ryu Jeong Han and Shin Seong-rok as Thomas Weaver, and Lee Seokjun and Lee Chang-Yong as Alvin Kelby. THE STORY OF MY LIFE is loved in Korea for its lovely numbers and lyrics, and also for its story that reminds people of their own childhood and the happiest moments of their own lives.
The 100-minute long musical follows the friendship between two men, Thomas Weaver and Alvin Kelby. While the voices of young Thomas and young Alvin ring out at the start of the show, the present Thomas walks down the aisle of the audience. As he reaches the stage, he goes in front of the podium and tries to finish the eulogy that he promised Alvin when they were twelve. He is in a writer's block and cannot write anything down despite the fact that he is a best-selling author. The shut curtain begins to open, and the audience can see Alvin sitting on a desk, smiling at Thomas.
As the show goes on, the audience sees Thomas moving back and forth in time, revisiting memories of Alvin and Thomas's past. Alvin tells Thomas that the bookshelves on the stage are filled with stories in Thomas's head, and that Thomas only has to pick one story and write it down to finish his eulogy. Thomas feels the need to revisit the last moment when he saw Alvin, which was at Alvin's father's funeral. Alvin asks Thomas to write a eulogy for his dad, but Thomas fails to write a eulogy and brings a poem by John Donne instead. Alvin responds that he will deliver the eulogy instead, and Thomas, frustrated that he is in a writer's block does not see the struggles that Alvin is going through at his dad's funeral and only gets mad that Alvin is at ease in telling stories. However, in the number 'I Didn't See Alvin', Thomas notices that most of his stories were inspired by Alvin, and feels guilty for not being able to help Alvin out during his dad's funeral, and for not noticing Alvin as the person who helped him the most. Alvin nudges Thomas once more to write down the eulogy for his own funeral, and tells Thomas that he does not have to know exactly why Alvin died and should just write down the memories they had together.
The stage of THE STORY OF MY LIFE in Korea, designed by Jung Seung-ho is special in a way that before the show starts, a curtain that hides the bookshelves is closed and there is only a podium on the right side of the stage. As the curtain opens, the audience can see antique-looking furniture and bookshelves that are filled with books and paper that changes into different props during the show. The paper stacked here and there on stage are sometimes used as stories of Thomas and Alvin, or as Thomas's college application story. In the middle of the show, when Thomas and Alvin have a snow fight, the paper on the stage turns into snow that actors on stage pack and throw at each other. The stage itself shows the confusion and frustration inside Thomas's head, and is a part of the show that many audiences love.
In the 2018-2019 production of THE STORY OF MY LIFE, the bestselling author Thomas Weaver is portrayed by Kang Pil Seok, Song Won Geun, and Jo Seong Yun. Jung Dong Hwa, Lee Chang-Yong, and Jung Won Young play the role of Thomas's childhood friend Alvin Kelby. This touching and magical musical about one's childhood and friendship is performed until February 17th, 2019. For more information and to buy tickets, visit http://www.globalinterpark.com/ or http://ticket.yes24.com/Pages/English/Perf/FnPerfList.aspx/. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office of Baekam Art Hall. Tickets start at 44,000 KRW. Make sure to check out the casting schedule prior to buying tickets, since the casting schedule is different every day.
THE STORY OF MY LIFE at Baekam Art Hall
Photo Credit: OD Company