Many gifted idols take on musical roles to showcase their talents in singing, dancing, and performing. Going into traditional acting or variety MC gigs, they are often met with skepticism. However, there is less initial scrutiny for those who go into a theatre career—they spend years in the trainee system so they have the skill set to become musical actors. Casting directors are favorable in casting talented idols not just due to their vocal skills and stage presence but also due to the ticket power that they hold—they can typically bring an audience because of how big their fandom is. The general public tends to view them not as artists, and thus it is good to portray their talents beyond being just a member of an idol group. Many of them have met and exceeded expectations in the musical field with their lead roles due to their vast experience of performing on stages. It is now typical for a musical to have at least one idol member (main or lead vocalist), who has established themselves or is beginning to establish themselves in the field. Here are 10 idols who have been involved in numerous musicals and are notable for their musical prowess.

1. Junsu – JYJ

Junsu is the most famous male idol in South Korean’s theatre industry and is well established as a musical actor. Prior to his theatre career, he was already known as one of the best vocally talented male idols due to his incredible vocal range and power. Mozart—in 2010’s Mozart—is the first character he has played. Since then, he has held a lead part in more than 10 musicals such as Death NoteElisabeth, and Xcalibur. One of his notable roles is Count Dracula in 2014’s Dracula, in which he had to display tragic yet complicated emotions. Thanks to him being an outstanding singer and performer, the general public knows that they will not be disappointed when he is on stage. As a result, he has an immense ticket power; he can typically sell out all seats (approx. 3,000) in 20 minutes. Junsu is the most sought after musical actor in this generation. Throughout the years, he has received numerous awards at the annual Korea Musical Awards such as Best Actor (in 2010 and 2012) and Most Popular Actor (in 2010 and 2011). Check out his role as Count Dracula below.

2. Seohyun – SNSD

Seohyun debuted in 2007 as a lead vocalist of Girls’ Generation. Her theatre debut was in 2014’s Moon Embracing the Sun, and in 2015 she took on the character Scarlett in Gone With The Wind. One of her most noteworthy roles is Sophie—a girl that is about to get married and is in search of her biological father to find herself—in 2016’s Mamma Mia. When singing live, Seohyun‘s voice is stable, and this aspect is shown in her musical performances. Check out her role in Mamma Mia below.

3. Luna- f(x)

Luna came into the idol scene in 2009 as the main vocalist of f(x). She started her theatre career in 2011 as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. She then branched out to 8 more musicals including In The HeightsGone With The Wind, and Rebecca. Regarding her vocals, she is known for her bright soprano sound. Check out her role as Ich (also known as the nameless narrator—I) in Rebecca below.

4. Kyuhyun- Super Junior

Kyuhyun debuted in 2006 as a main vocalist for Super Junior. He made his theatre debut in 2010’s The Three Musketeers and since then has had lead roles in 8 musicals including, Frank in Catch Me If You Can and Prince Phillip in Robin Hood. Additionally, Kyuhyun is known for his energetic yet soft vocals. He was recently cast in The Man Who Laughs (based on a novel by Victor Hugo), which is set to premiere on January 2020. He will play the protagonist Gwynplaine who is a homeless boy in 17th century England. Check out his performance in 2016’s Mozart below.

5. Yoseob – BEAST/Highlight

The members of BEAST were brought into the K-pop scene in 2009 with Yoseob as their main vocalist. Yoseob started his musical career in 2011’s Gwanghwamun Sonata and received the Musical Rising Star Award in 2012 due to his role in it. Afterwards, he held lead parts in 7 musicals such as Zorro in 2014’s ZorroPrince Philip in 2015’s Robin Hood, and Prince Christopher in 2015’s Cinderella. He is most notable for his powerful and refreshing vocal range. One of his significant characters that he played—a man named Mooyoung who is responsible for solving mysteries in the Blue House (South Korea’s presidential residence)—was in 2017’s Those Days. Check out his role as Prince Philip in Robin Hood below.

6. Key – Shinee

SHINee was formed in 2008 with Kim Kibum (also known as Key) being their lead rapper, lead dancer, and vocalist. Key‘s first theatre role was in 2012’s Catch Me If You Can—he was in 7 musicals such as Bonnie and ClydeChess, and Save the Green Planet soon after. Byeong Gu, a man that he portrayed in Save the Green Planet, believed in aliens and strived to protect the earth from extraterritorial invasion. Check out his performance as this character below.

7. Sandeul- B1A4

Sandeul started his idol career in 2011 (acting as B1A4‘s main vocalist). He has a superb vocal technique and had his musical debut as 2012’s Brothers Were Brave. Since then, he has held lead parts in 6 musicals, including King Philippe in Iron Mask and d’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers. Known for his cute and humorous acting as d’ArtagnanSandeul was one of the musketeers tasked to save the king from danger. Check out his performance below.


8. Ok Joohyun – Fin.K.L

Joohyun is the most successful former idol in the theatre industry. She was the main vocalist of Fin.K.L—one of the top 1st generation girl groups formed by DSP in 1998. Two years after the group’s disbandment in 2002, she established herself as a musical actress. Not only did she star in 28 musicals and counting, Joohyun received wide recognition and many awards for her performances at the annual The Musical Award. There are many idols who aspire to go into musical career like her, and Seohyun has been dubbed as next Ok Joohyun. Check out her performance as Elphaba Thropp in 2013’s Wicked.

9. Bada – S.E.S

Like Ok JoohyunBada is also a successful former idol in the theatre industry. She debuted as a main vocalist in S.E.S under SM Entertainment in 1997. S.E.S was a top group in their prime until they became inactive. Since 2003, she starred in over 10+ musicals, including Carmen in Carmen and Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street. Check out her performance as Scarlett in 2018’s Gone with the Wind.


10. Sungkyu- Infinite

In 2010, Sungkyu (whose vocal style is rock-like and powerful) started his K-pop career as a main vocalist in Infinite. He made his theatre debut in 2012 with Gwanghwamun Sonata and had leading roles in 8 musicals since then. Notable characters that he played include Elvis in 2016’s All Shook Up and Mozart in 2018’s Amadeus. In All Shook UpSungkyu depicted his character well—a young Elvis who stumbled upon a new town due to his broken motorcycle. Check out his performance as Elvis in 2016 below.

There are many other talented idols not mentioned here who are also actively involved in the musical industry. It isn’t uncommon for them to branch into other careers in order to gain more individual recognition that may be hard to achieve in a group. As a result of them undergoing so much training in singing and dancing, they’re somewhat prepared for the theatre world. While Bada and Joohyun went into acting after their respective groups disbanded, the others have dove into the musical world while still being active in their groups. It’s also interesting that musicals tend to have more than one idols at a time. For example, YoseobSandeul, and Ken starred in 2015’s CinderellaKey and Dana had roles in 2013’s Bonnie and Clyde. Not only are there a variety of musicals being produced, but more of them are geared towards the younger audience. Therefore, there has been need for idols to fill up the growing musical roles. Are there any idols that you thought of that weren’t included in the list that do musicals?