Twinlets Jayley and Hayley Woo spent the past month in Seoul training for their musical Chef: Bibimbap vs Chilli Crab, currently showing at Resorts World Sentosa. They spill the beans on getting hit on by Koreans and piling on the aegyo as the comedy’s Cutie Chef. (Guess who hates being called “cute”?)
8 DAYS: You were both in Seoul for a month to train for the musical Chef: Bibimbap vs Chilli Crab. What’s it like working with the Korean production team?
JAYLEY WOO: We felt the need to really perform well…
HAYLEY WOO: …and step up our game.
J: We don’t want to…
H: … ‘lose face’. (Laughs)
J: ’Cos every time we do a full run, we have to do it twice ’cos Hayley and I take turns playing the role. So can you imagine how embarrassing it’d be if we were to screw up! (Laughs)
H: We’d be wasting everyone’s time and effort. I feel like we burn a lot of calories just to do one show ’cos there’s a lot of running around. And we need to sing with our diaphragm, which uses a lot of energy. It’s actually very tiring.
J: Yeah, singing burns a lot of calories.
H: That’s why our vocal coach [who plays Sexy Chef in the musical] is so skinny and has abs even though she said she’s never exercised. She sings a lot — she’s classically trained and has 15 years of experience. You can’t really tell that she’s a mum. Singing’s a good workout.
What’s the worst blunder you could make on stage?
J: Go out of tune (laughs). When someone watches your performance, they can blink, yawn, or close their eyes and miss seeing the dance routine, but they won’t miss hearing it [if something goes wrong]. If you go off-tune, you cannot hide it. We went off-key a lot during rehearsals, especially in the beginning. (Laughs)
You both take turns playing Cutie Chef. Who’s better at acting cute?
H: Expression-wise, her.
J: On stage lah. But in reality, I don’t think I’m cute. I don’t mean it as self-praise, but I grew up hearing a lot of comments about me being cute. So I don’t like the label “cute”. I think it’s very superficial. It’s a very good thing that people think I’m cute. But I want to [also] be known as hardworking or talented, rather than just cute (laughs).
Do you two interpret the same role differently?
H: Our personalities are quite different. Jayley is a bit more uninhibited and forthright. She behaves like a guy. I’m more girly. For this role, initially, she has to act cute. But, towards the end, she has to show off her tough side and even beat people up. I think Jayley portrayed the latter part very well ’cos she’s basically playing herself. I need to [be more aggressive during those parts] so I can reach her level.
J: If we were to go to Hongdae and ask a guy to pick either of us as their ideal type, I’d say she’s the pretty type whereas I’m the cute type. So we bring a different ‘feel’ on stage. If only I had half of her femininity and she had half of my manliness, then we’d both be the perfect Cutie Chef. But then perfect is boring lah. So we’ll just be ourselves lor.
H: Perfect is overrated! (Laughs)
Have any Korean guys tried to pick you up?
J: My sister had a lot of such experiences.
H: The other night, we were in Hongdae. Jayley and our PA went to the toilet, and I was waiting for them outside. Suddenly, two young men approached me. One of them suddenly came super close to me and asked, “Why are you so pretty?” in Korean. I replied, “Thanks to my father and mother” in Korean and walked away. But they followed me. I got scared. So I said, “I’ve a boyfriend” in Korean, hoping that he would back off. But he grabbed my arm and said in English, “I don’t care whether you got boyfriend or not.” I shouted, “Don’t touch me!” Then he got scared and walked away (laughs).
J: There was another time we were crossing the road when out of nowhere, two or three guys grabbed us. I was scared ’cos one of them was pulling me by my waist. I didn’t know where he wanted to drag me to. I kept brushing his hand away frantically and said, “Don’t touch! Don’t touch!” Then, I quickly walked away. It was so scary. I think they were drunk ’cos I smelled soju.
H: Another incident I’m very angry about is when we were crossing the road in Hongdae and there was a guy who banged his back against my butt — I don’t know if he did it on purpose. It was so painful and I felt like I had been molested. He was laughing after he knocked into me. I angrily told him “It’s not even funny” and gave him the death stare.
Chef: Bibimbap vs Chilli Crab gives a local twist to the well-loved Bibap show in Korea which debuted in 2009. What new things have you guys brought to the table?
J: I think we bring very different energies to this whole show. The cast have been doing it for many years. So their performances might get a bit stale or they may feel jaded. We’ve also taught them Singlish like “wah lau”, “buay song” and “kua simi kua” that they can use in the skit. We even taught one of the cast members to sing ‘Unbelievable’. He was like, “Huh, Singapore has this kind of music?”
H: He thought it sounds a bit like Korean trot, which is traditional Korean music.
Chef: Bibimbap vs Chilli Crab runs till July 22 at the Resorts World Theatre, Resorts World Sentosa. Tix from Sistic.