“Miss Saigon”: The musical that gained huge success in its 2006 premiere run here will continue its encore shows until Sept. 12 at the Seongnam Arts Center and Chungmu Arts Hall in central Seoul. The show tells a tragic love story between a U.S. soldier and a Vietnamese bar girl during the Vietnam War. Lee Gun-myung and Korean-American Michael Lee double in the leading roles while actresses Kim Bo-kyung and Lim Hye-young share the role of the female lead. Tickets run from 20,000 won to 110,000 won. For details, call (02) 518-7343.
“I Love You”: The Korean production of the hit omnibus romantic musical from Off Broadway features the diverse love stories of around 60 characters played by just four actors. Veteran musical actor Nam Kyung-joo, who starred in the premiere run in 2004, made the show widely-popular through his experienced performance. The realistic description of the process of a relationship -- from the joyful beginning stage to ennui -- as well as witty dialogue has appealed to the audience in previous runs. The show will be staged through Saturday at Art One Theater in Daehangno, Seoul. Tickets run from 20,000 won to 45,000 won. For details, call (02) 501-7888.
“Singles”: The musical adaptation of the Korean movie of the same title is showing as an open run at PMC Jayu Theater in Daehangno, Seoul. The show stars Jeon Hye-bin who makes her musical debut through the piece. The musical deals with the lifestyles, friendships and loves of young people. For more information, call (02) 764-8760.
“Pimatgol Sonata”: Taking a cue from what filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s musicals have done for China’s tourism industry, Seoul city is producing an original, large-scale musical set in Pimatgol -- a 600-year-old stretch of alley in downtown Seoul famous for rustic, street-side eateries and bars.
Set against a backdrop of an ill-fated love story during the Joseon period, the Seoul metropolitan government reportedly footed the 1.8 billion won budget in the hopes that the Bae Sam-sik-penned production will attract local and foreign visitors just as Zhang’s “Impressions” series did for Guilin in China.
Set to begin its limited run from Sept. 4-14, local musical stalwarts Cho Jung-eun and Park Eun-tae portray the two star-crossed lovers alongside veteran television and theater actress Yang Hee-kyung.
Information on tickets is to be announced.
“Thrill Me”: Based on Stephen Dolginoff’s American musical “Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story,” the local version stars Lee Ji-hoon and Oh Jong-hyeok. The original was based on the true story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, the so-called “thrill killers” who murdered a young boy in 1924 in order to commit “the perfect crime.” The story is told in flashbacks, beginning with a 1958 parole hearing. The musical will run until Nov. 14 at the Sinchon The Stage theater in Seoul. For more information call (02) 744-4011.
“Billy Elliot”: Based on the Academy-Award nominated film of the same name written by Lee Hall, the musical version of “Billy Elliot” will be staged as an open run in Korea at the LG Art Center as the first non-English production in Asia. Set during the coal miner’s strike of 1984-85 in a working class northern English town, a young boy Billy pursues his dream to become a ballerino in secret. Tickets cost from 50,000 to 130,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3446-9630.
“The Toxic Avenger”: Winner of the Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical at the Outer Critics Circle Awards in 2009, “The Toxic Avenger” will be staged in Korea for the first time at the KT&G Sang Sang Art Hall in Seoul until Oct. 10. The story is centered on a man who becomes a giant green mutant while trying to save the environment and his beautiful lover from villainous forces. Tickets cost 55,000 to 66,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3404-4314.
“The Two Gentlemen of Verona”: William Shakespeare’s widely read play “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” will be retooled as a musical at the Sejong Center for the Performing Art’s M Theater until Aug. 28. The romantic comedy tells of the romp between two friends Valentine and Proteus who fall in love with the same woman. Tickets cost are priced at 40,000 to 60,000 won. For more information, call (02) 399-1114.
“University of Laughs”: The hit play from last year by theater venture group Yeongeukyeoljeon is showing at Daehangno Arts One Theater as well as at COEX Arts Hall in Seoul as an open run. Based on the popular Japanese novel by Koki Mitani, the piece depicts a seven-day confrontation between an inspector trying to ban comic plays and a scriptwriter who values humor above all in his works, and the friendship that later develops between the two. Tickets run from 20,000 won to 40,000 won. For details, call (02) 766-6007.
“Nobody Else But You”: Based on the hit Japanese comedic drama of the same name written by Koki Mitani, the local version of the play will be staged by The Best Play, Inc. at the Ida Theater in Daehangno beginning July 23-Oct. 31. Veteran Daehangno theater scene stalwarts Song Young-chang and Seo Hyun-cheol star in this comedic romp about a middle-aged father’s daughter becoming romantically linked with a man older than he is.
For more information on tickets, contact The Best Play, Inc. (02) 766-6007.
“A King is the King”: The Sejong Center for the Performing Arts presents Korea’s first stage adaptation of an Arabic theatrical play, “A King is the King.” Directed by Choi Yon-hoon, the play tells the story of an Arabic king who ventures outside of his kingdom in a drunken impulse to see for himself the state of his people. He meets an impoverished merchant on the street and decides to take him into his palace where he is introduced to the lavish world of his majesty’s royal lifestyle. The production’s run will begin Sept. 3-19 at the M theater of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Seoul. For information on tickets, call (02) 399-1114~6 or visit www.interpark.co.kr (02) 1544-1555
“Mom”: Having moved its audience of more than 130,000 to tears, “Mom” is a 2009 original stage drama starring veteran television actress Kang Bu-ja and Chun Mi-sun as mother and daughter coming to grips with years of estrangement. The two take a three-day trip to a rural province where they try to make amends for the past.
For more information on tickets, call Ticketpark (02) 1544-1555 or (02) 333-7203.
“Sunchang Fermented Sauce Festival”: Held every fall at Sunchang, a city known for healthy living and longevity, this year’s edition will start on Oct. 10 - 18. Sunchang hot pepper sauce, which used to be presented to the royal family during the Joseon Dynasty, is said to have many health benefits, including the prevention of cancer and obesity. As people become more interested in their health, the famous pepper paste has become an even greater part of the Korean diet. The upcoming event is a celebration of all things spicy. The venue of the festival is Hot Sauce Folk Village, a Mecca of Sunchang Hot Sauce. There will be a range of programs including celebrity performances, percussion performances, Madangnori and making traditional hot sauce. Other side events include Sunchang Specialty Exhibition (e.g. vegetables fermented in hot sauce, Bokbunja liquor), Children’s Painting Contest, and photo exhibitions. The festival’s crowning glory is the Sunchang traditional hot sauce competition, a must-see event. For more information on the festival, visit www.hotsauce.go.kr.
“Geumsan Insam Festival”: As Geumsan County’s leading festival, the region is the largest producer of ginseng in Korea and home to a ginseng and medicinal herb market. The festival, which has been running for 29 years, is held to promote the beneficial effects of Geumsan ginseng. The Geumsan Ginseng Pavilion will feature exhibits on everything related to ginseng, including a special fair for the international ginseng trade and a hands-on health area featuring folk medicinal remedies. Visitors can also enjoy Geumsan traditional folk performances, singing and dance contests, a dramatic production about ginseng, and various other attractions. Participants in the hands-on programs can pick ginseng and make a decorative ginseng bottle for themselves. Visitors can also participate in the ginseng cooking contest, a sports competition, and a marathon. For foreign travelers, there is also a singing contest, a ginseng herb quiz, ginseng t-shirt painting, herb cutting, and other unique programs. For more information visit, www.geumsan.go.kr.
“Great Baekje World Festival”: This half-a-century old festival boasts a blend of historical and cultural events that promises to transport visitors back into the glory days of the Baekje Kingdom.
This year’s festival, under the theme “The Revival of Great Baekje: 1,400 Years Later,” will be held at Gomanaru Ferry at Gongju City and the Baekje Cultural Complex of Buyeo County in Chungcheongnam-do Province. The official opening ceremony will take place on September 18th, followed by 30 days of events celebrating one of Korea’s most prominent founding kingdoms. Highlights of the festival include performances of “Sama Iyagi” and “Sabimir.” “Sama Iyagi” is the story of the great naval hero “Sama,” presented in an epic show that uses the Gomanaru Ferry at Geumgang River as its backdrop. In the on-the-water media performance “Sabimir,” the beauty of Baekje’s cultural heritages will unfold before your eyes, including Buyeo Geumdong Dae Hyangro (the gilt-bronze incense burners of Buyeo). Two hundred skilled professional actors and actresses make these two stunning performances a gripping representation of the beautiful story of Korea’s proud and vibrant past. For more information, visit www.baekje.org.