Cinderella is a Broadway musical and is the modernized version of the beloved fairy tale. It’s also the first musical for Youn Ha, who debuted as a singer 12 years ago. In 2013, she appeared in the premiere of The Lost Garden in China, but doing a two-day gig is nothing like taking on the lead role of Cinderella. So, for all intents and purposes this is her musical debut. Whenever she visits New York, she makes sure to see at least one Broadway show. And her reason for choosing this particular piece? She answered loud and clear proclaiming, “Because it’s Cinderella!” It’s a story about a confident young woman who does not give up despite the circumstances. I couldn’t think of anyone more well suited for the lead role in Cinderella other than the buoyant Youn Ha.
Cinderella in the musical is a little different than the Cinderella we normally read about. Did that make it harder to play her?
Of course, I incorporated some of the more vulnerable traits of the original Cinderella and the storyline of her going from being a household servant to a princess. But there’s also the Cinderella who dreams of a better future in the midst of being scrutinized by her stepmother and stepsisters, the Cinderella who carries the acumen and intelligence to help a prince who knows nothing about governing a kingdom, the Cinderella who has a big heart and forgives her stepmother in the end… All of these aspects are within that one character, which made it quite difficult to bring the traditional and modern characteristics of Cinderella together. If any of those aspects outshone the other, Cinderella would end up being too strong or too tragic. Finding a balance was a real challenge.
How did you end up balancing everything?
First of all, I ended up intentionally engaging in a lot of conversations. I called the other actresses who had played Cinderella every single day. If I didn’t have a good phone plan, my phone bills would’ve totaled hundreds of thousands dollars. Even though some actor-friends got sick of me contacting them, I kept asking questions like: “I think in this scene, I should do this, but I think the director thinks a little differently …” and “I want to portray this scene this way, but would that be outside of the character of Cinderella?” Asking these questions really helped me out a lot.
Do you have a favorite scene or line that you would like to share with us?
“There was a time when I hated my name being called, but not anymore, starting today. When someone feels like things are impossible, they should feel hope when hearing my name.” I feel like this particular line by Cinderella explains the entire piece. It also explains a part of my life, too. I wanted to share this line because I want everyone who hears this to not lose hope and to never stop dreaming, even when things start to feel hopeless.