[News] DJ DOC's music reborn in 'Street Life'

By Kwon Mee-yoo

The music of DJ DOC heats up the stage with powerful rap and choreography. However, this is not a concert, but a new jukebox musical “Street Life,” composed solely of the hip-hop group’s songs.

Jukebox musicals often go one of two ways — create a new story with the music like “Mamma Mia!” and “All Shook Up” or interweave the life of the musicians in documentary style like “Jersey Boys.” “Street Life” took a middle path. It is a story of three men who love music, but it is difficult to find biographical clues related to DJ DOC members.

The story revolves around Jae-min (played by Lee Jae-one and Kim Tae-hoon), Su-chang (Jung Won-young and Lee Jin-kyu) and Hun (Kang Hong-seok and Ra Jun), working at a night club as a DJ, waiter and tout, respectively, who dream of becoming musicians. They make their debut as a group named Street Life, but the music business proves no bed of roses when they meet a greedy manager.

Supporting roles such as the mean agency chief, an androgynous stylist and frantic fans pepper the musical with humor.

DJ DOC’s songs blend well with the story and make the audience leap to their feet during the curtain call, waving glow sticks.

Sung Jae-jun, the playwright and director of the musical, wrote four drafts and the fourth was chosen.

“Basically, I listened to the music of DJ DOC over and over and thought what kind of story would suit it,” Sung said. “The initial story was totally different from the current version.”

Among some 140 DJ DOC songs, Sung selected 22. Instead of realistic portrayals of DJ DOC’s members, Sung created new characters based on their songs.

“‘Scratch Family’ and ‘Investigation Squad Leader’ inspired the character of Hun who is ambitious, while ‘Biae’ (Sorrow) gave shape to Su-chang’s unrequited love. Jae-min’s girlfriend Se-hee’s character came from the song titled ‘I’m Waiting,’” Sung said. “All these characters in the show have one thing in common — they are dreamers.”

“Street Life” went through a four-week workshop in spring prior to its premiere in August. Sung said a jukebox musical is like a puzzle and certain pieces can find their place only when actors play their roles. “The workshop helped me refine the characters working with actors and other staff members,” he said.

The musical incorporates hit songs of DJ DOC such as “Run to You” and “Dance with DOC” but also introduces many diamonds in the rough. “The most important thing was coherence to the story. Some of the songs were taken out despite their popularity because they didn’t go well with the plot,” the playwright-director said.

Nevertheless, DJ DOC’s Lee Ha-neul participated in the show as music supervisor, maintaining the color of the hip-hop group.

The audience of “Street Life” ranges from people in their 20s to those in their 40s and 50s. “This is a rap musical but middle-aged people also enjoy the show fully, dancing to DJ DOC’s music,” Sung said. “The audiences support the group Street Life. They cheer when Street Life tops the chart and jeer at the mean manager. I am so glad that they are absorbed in the life and music of the group as I hoped from the beginning.”

The musical runs through Nov. 27 at Dongsoong Hall, Dongsoong Art Center in Daehangno, Seoul. Tickets cost from 50,000 won to 60,000 won. For more information, call 1577-3363.