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A Study on the Influence of Leading Actors on Musical Lyric Translation in South Korea —A Case Study on “Jekyll & Hyde”

Hong Jung Min 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study aims at identifying the possible influence of leading actors on licensed musical lyric translation in South Korea, focusing on Frank Wildhorn’s “Jekyll & Hyde”, the country’s largest grossing musical. The commercial success of its South Korean production, which contrasts with the $1.5 million in losses made by the Broadway original production from 1997 to 2001, is largely credited with the localization involving modification of characters and dramatic evolution to better appeal to the target audience, the majority of whom is young female attracted to male actors. Literature review of newspaper and magazine articles and relevant research shows that the localization focused on evoking more sympathy toward the main characters which strengthened the tragedy of the ending. This was reinforced as the leading actor Cho Seung-woo, who played the title role six times since the South Korean premier in 2004 through 2015 revival, stressed the feebleness, naivety and passion of Jekyll’s character. The actor’s interpretation of the character, which well corresponded to his small frame and delicate face, was enthusiastically received by the audience and then canonized to dwarf the character’s image described by other actors. Text analysis, based on the three key strategies of (re)framing suggested by Baker (2006: 111-39), finds that Jekyll’s image portrayed by Cho was further bolstered in the translated lyrics by means of selective appropriation of numbers, labeling of the character’s attitudes or situation, and repositioning of the character’s relationship or location with others. The findings indicate that various aspects of actors, such as their character interpretation and appearance, can influence on musical lyric translation, and the lyric translation factoring in actor element can help the commercial success of licensed musicals in South Korea.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.