Despite recent successes of homemade musicals, Broadway and West End continue to reign here in terms of audience numbers.
Targeting the industry`s usual peak season starting summer, three smash hit Western musicals are slated to for summer and fall openings. The three are "The Phantom of the Opera," "Chicago" and "Mamma Mia,!"
A vernacular production of "The Phantom of the Opera" starts at Charlotte Theater in Jamsil-dong, Seoul, beginning Sept. 23.
Organizers of the show, who introduced the musical eight years ago, have high hopes that it will be more successful than the previous one with reinforced completeness.
"We`re expecting to secure more than 300,000 viewers -- when we will meet the break-even point -- and ultimately aiming at getting around 400,000 by the end of the run," said Seol Do-yun, the CEO of Seol & Company at a press conference last week.
While the current economic recession throws some doubt on the expectation, Seol is pretty confident about his outlook.
"People told me that I was crazy to stage the show back in 2001, right after the (late 90s`) economic crisis, but it turned out to be a big hit drawing more than 240,000 people during the seven-month run," Seol said. So far, no other long-running musicals have broken the record.
One of the first licensed foreign musicals to be introduced here, "The Phantom of the Opera" is credited with contributing greatly to initiating the musical boom in the early 2000s.
The show adopts a flexible ticket pricing system which sets different rates for weekdays and weekends, as well as for different seasons. A same seat, thus, can cost as much as 30,000 won more at the year-end and during summer when the demands are higher than usual.
While there is a trend to cast high-profile stars in big-name musicals, Seol & Company said it focused on selecting the right actors for each role. Actress Kim So-hyun plays Christine like she did in 2001, while actors Hong Kwang-ho and Yang Jun-mo will play Raul and the phantom, respectively.
"The Phantom of the Opera" runs through Aug. 8, 2010. For more information, call (02) 3496-8814.
"Chicago," whose story many Koreans know by its 2002 film adaptation, starts showing at Seongnam Arts Center in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, on Jun. 5.
The show boasts an impressive casting -- popular singer Insooni who starred in the 2000` premiere run shares the role of Velma with veteran musical actress Choi Jung-won. Actor Huh Jun-ho will play Billy, while actresses Ok Ju-hyun and Bae Hye-sun double in the role of Roxy.
The musical, set in the 1920s Chicago, satirizes the society where crimes prevail while combining the topic with jazz and sensual choreographies.
It centers on Roxy, a night club chorus singer, who gets arrested for murder but later is discharged by manipulating the public opinion with the help of sneaky lawyer Billy.
"Chicago" continues its run until Jun. 29. Tickets are from 40,000 won to 110,000 won. For details, call (02) 577-1987.
"Mamma Mia," meanwhile, will open at the National Theater of Korea on June 21.
One of the most popular "jukebox musicals," the show consists of hit songs by 70s pop group ABBA. It features the story of Donna, a single mother who tries to find the real father among three men for the sake of her daughter Sophie who is about to get married.
Donna will be played by veteran musical actresses Choi Jung-won and Lee Tae-won. Actors including Jun Su-kyung, Lee Kyung-mi and Sung Ki-yoon who have been performing in the show since 2004 will also be back.
The show is aiming to lure more housewives audiences and will add 3 p.m. performances for Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as offering a 20 percent discount.
"Mamma Mia!" will run through July 23. Tickets are from 40,000 won to 120,000 won. For details, call (02) 577-1987.
By Koh Young-aah