A musical treat in store this summer

By Korea Herald

‘Dracula,’ ‘Priscilla,’ ‘Tale of Two Cities’ among season’s lineup

  • Published : Jun 17, 2014 - 20:59
  • Updated : Jun 17, 2014 - 20:59
Musicals of diverse genres, themes and origins await fans this summer, taking the stages of almost all major performing arts venues in Seoul.

From a Broadway classic and an Australian drag show getting a Korean premiere to a suspensful thriller and a jukebox show, this season’s musical lineup has something for everyone.

Here’s a look at some of the most anticipated shows this season. 

Broadway classics

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary musical “Cats” is back, with an international cast.

As in many other countries, the show about a tribe of Jellicle cats’ annual gathering in the junkyard was a hit every time it was performed here. The original production first came to Korea in 1994, and returned in 2003, 2007 and 2008, each time renewing sales records.

In the current production, Australian singer and actress Erin Cornell sings “Memory,” the show’s most famous number, as Grizabella, the once-glamorous cat who is now tattered and torn. South African actor Earl Gregory takes on the role of the sexy rebel cat Rum Tum Tugger.

“Cats” runs through Aug. 24 at Blue Square, Itaewon, near exit No. 2 of Hanganjin Station.

The classic Broadway tap dance musical “42nd Street” is getting a Korean revival. Veteran actors and actresses Nam Jyung-joo, Kim Young-ho, Park Hae-min and Hong Ji-min have teamed up for the show, known for its beautiful score and synchronized tap ensembles. It runs from July 8 through Aug. 31 at CJ Towol Theater at Seoul Arts Center, southern Seoul.

“Chicago,” another timeless Broadway hit, is starting its 10th run in Korea, with veteran Choi Jung-won as Velma Kelly and singer Ivy as Roxie Hart. It opens on Aug. 2 and ends on Sept. 28 at D-Cube Arts Center, near exit No. 1 of Sindorim Station. 

Stars, stars, stars

The K-pop idol invasion of musical theater has just gotten more serious.

K-pop powerhouse SM Entertainment raised the curtain on its first musical production ― “Singin’ in the Rain” ― on June 5. Not surprisingly, the cast is drawn from the agency’s biggest acts EXO, Super Junior and Girls’ Generation.

EXO’s Baekhyun, Super Junior’s Kyuhyun and TRAX’s Jay share the male lead role of Don Lockwood, while Girls’ Generation’s Sunny will play Kathy Selden, Lockwood’s love interest, alongside two actresses.

Commercial success is virtually guaranteed, when cast members like Baekhyun boast an army of enthusiastic fans who crashed the ticket site as they rushed to secure a seat.

The SM production of “Singin’ in the Rain” runs through Aug. 3 at Chungmu Art Hall, near exit No. 9 of Sindang Station.

The local production of movie-turned-musical “Bonnie & Clyde” also has some pop stars in it. Jang Hyung-seung of boy band BEAST and Kahi from girl group After School are scheduled to perform in the show’s remaining shows through June 29 at BBC Arts Center, near exits No. 4 and 5 of Apgujeong Station. 

Ambitious revivals

“MOZART!,” an Austrian musical about the country’s greatest musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, has been performed here three times already. The current production, however, is totally different, with new scores added and the plot altered to make it more appealing for the Korean audience, its producer EMK Musical Company says. 
Singer Park Hyo-sin plays Mozart in a local production of the Austrian musical “Mozart!” (EMK Musical Company)

Veteran musical actor Im Tae-kyung plays Mozart, as he did in the three previous productions, sharing the role with Park Eun-tae and singer-turned-musical actor Park Hyo-sin.

“Mozart!” runs through Aug. 3 at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul.

“A Tale of Two Cities,” the lumpish musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel by the same title, was a great success when it premiered here in 2012, winning both critical and public acclaim.

BOM Korea is starting a third run of the show this summer, aiming to repeat the feat once again, with its secret weapon this time being director Wang Yong-beom.

Wang swept nine prizes including Best Musical at this year’s Musical Awards, Korea’s Tonys, with “Frankenstein,” a show that he wrote lyrics for and produced.

Actors Seo Bhum-seok, Lee Kun-myung and Han Ji-sang will share the role of Sydney Carton, a shrewd young English lawyer who develops a strong, unrequited love for Lucie Manette, a young loving French woman who grew up in England.

It kicks off on June 25 at Haeorum Theater of the National Theater of Korea, near exit No. 6 of Dongguk University Station. 

JYJ member and musical star Kim Jun-su will return to the stage as Count Dracula in a new musical of the same title. (OD Musical Company)

Korean premieres

Two works are getting their Korean premiere: “Dracula” and “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.”

“Dracula” is one of the most anticipated shows of the season, starring the hottest musical star in the scene Kim Jun-su as vampire Count Dracula who loves one woman for more than a thousand years. Veteran actor Ryu Jung-han shares the role with Kim.

A member of JYJ and former member of TVXQ, Kim has proven his popularity with ticket sales again: Tickets for the shows starring him sold out within just 30 minutes of the sales opening.

With a score by Frank Wildhorn of “Jekyll & Hyde,” the musical is based on the original Victorian novel by Bram Stoker of the same title. It opens at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera House on July 15 and will run through Sept. 5.

“Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” is a jukebox musical from Australia, full of well-known pop songs like “It’s Raining Men,” “True Colors,” “Material Girl” and “I Will Survive.” 
A scene from “Priscilla.” (Seol&Company)

Adapted from the 1994 Australian film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” the show tells the story of two drag queens and a transsexual, who travel from Sydney to a remote town in the Australian desert aboard their lavender bus, Priscilla, to do a drag show.

The cast includes Cho Sung-ha, a TV actor making his musical debut, Korean-American musical actor Michael Lee, 2AM member Jo Kwon and singer-turned-musical actor Lee Ji-hoon.

“Priscilla” runs from July 8 through Sept. 29 at LG Arts Center, near Yeoksam Station, exit No. 7.

By Lee Sun-young (