For musical fans, once is not enough

By Korea Herald

Survey finds most see same show again and again

  • Published : Jul 6, 2014 - 20:45
  • Updated : Jul 6, 2014 - 21:30
Ever wondered why the hottest stars in the musical scene are all men? Or who are the people raging frantic ticket wars for some shows, often leading online reservation systems to crash immediately after sales begin?

A new survey offers some clues.

The poll, conducted last month by Interpark, a leading ticket reservation site for musicals, on behalf of The Herald Business, a sister paper of The Korea Herald, found that only 12.6 percent of the nearly 3,000 musical fans who responded watch a show just once.

The rest ― 87 percent ― said they would watch a show twice or more, if they like it. The number of times they return to see it varies widely: 50 percent of the respondents said 2-5 times, followed by 6-10 times (16.7 percent), 11-15 times (8.5 percent), more than 20 times (7.6 percent) and 16-20 times (4.3 percent). 
Park Eun-tae (EMK Musical)
So, why is once not enough?

The poll also asked the fans to name their reasons for watching the same show again and 52.2 percent said it is because they liked the performer(s). Nineteen percent said they return for the music, while 11.6 percent said they do so to see how different casts perform.

A typical musical production in Korea is double or triple cast, performed 8 times a week and closes after a two or three-month run. This means that a show is staged 60-100 times per run.

R-section tickets usually cost around 110,000 won ($108) with the cheapest ones at about 30,000 won.

The Korean musical audience is default young, single and female, industry insiders say. A show’s success depends on their return ― as many times as possible ― to the theater.

“The industry thrives on the disposable income of young women living at home until marriage, who have an insatiable appetite for this art form’s combination of intense emotion and immediate spectacle,” Canadian director Adrian Osmond wrote to a newspaper last month while helming a local production of musical “MOZART!” in Seoul.

His observation is backed by many statistical data. Interpark, for one, reports the male-to-female ratio in its musical ticket sales to be at around 3:7, unchanged for the past few years.

Unsurprisingly, the hottest stars in the musical scene are predominantly men.

Kim Jun-su topped the list of the most influential musical stars, garnering 34.4 percent of support, followed by Cho Seung-woo, Park Eun-tae and Ryu Jung-han.

Kim Sun-young, currently playing the green witch Elphaba in “Wicked,” is the only actress to crack the top 5 list, ranking fifth. 
Kim Jun-su (OD Musical)
Cho Seung-woo (Shownote)

Kim Jun-su, a member of K-pop trio JYJ and former member of TVXQ, is to play vampire Count Dracula in the Korean premiere of musical “Dracula.” Indicative of his popularity, tickets for the shows starring him sold out within just 30 minutes of the sales opening.

Cho Seung-woo, best known for his roles in “Hedwig” and “Jekyll and Hyde,” is now currently starring yet again as the transgender singer in “Hedwig.” The online ticketing system crashed as fans rushed to see Cho on stage on the first day of ticket sales in April.

For the most anticipated shows in the second half of the year, poll respondents overwhelmingly chose “Dracula” (62.1 percent), scheduled to open July 17 at Seoul Arts Center.

The Interpark/Herald survey was conducted for 15 days from June 12-26 via Interpark PlayDB. A total of 2,962 responded. As for the most anticipated shows, the poll asked respondents to choose one out of the 13 shows scheduled to open at theaters with more than 1,000 seats.

By Lee Sun-young (