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MUSICAL 'ARIRANG' - A scene from
MUSICAL 'ARIRANG' - A scene from "Arirang," a musical adaptation from the epic novel of the same title by Jo Jung-rae, currently playing at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul (Seensee)
“The Last Empress”: After premiering in 1995, “The Last Empress” musical is considered to be the first big-time hit Korean original musical. The story tells the 19th-century tale of the first wife of the nation’s first king -- Empress Myeongseong, who was considered as a strong opponent of Japan’s colonial expansion, leading to her eventual assassination. This year’s showing will mark the 20th anniversary of the historic musical production. “The Last Empress” will be staged at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater from July 28 through Sept. 10. Ticket prices range from 60,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, visit www.interpark.com.


A scene from the Korean original musical “The Last Empress.” (Acom International)
A scene from the Korean original musical “The Last Empress.” (Acom International)

“Arirang”: The upcoming production of the highly anticipated Korean musical “Arirang” will mark a historic moment as it will bring to life the words of renowned Korean novelist Jo Jung-rae and his epic 12-volume novel. The musical tells the tale of Japan’s colonization of the peninsula and comes after years of failed attempts to adapt the 20,000-page novel into a screenplay. The musical will be held at the LG Arts Center in Seoul from July 16 to Sept. 5. Ticket prices range from 60,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, visit www.lgart.com.

“Chess: The Musical”: With lyrics by the renowned Tim Rice, “Chess” is set during the Cold War at a time of heightened tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Amid the political turmoil, the world chess championship in Thailand captures the world’s attention when American grandmaster Freddie prepares to play Soviet grandmaster Anatoly. The Korean cast features K-pop idols Jo-kwon and Key in the role of Anatoly and musical actors Shin Sung-woo and Lee Kun-myung as Freddie. “Chess” runs until July 19 at the Sejong Center, with ticket prices ranging from 40,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, visit www.musicalchess.co.kr.

“Urinetown: The Musical”: To pee or not to pee, that is the question in the satirical comedy Broadway musical “Urinetown.” After a horrible drought causes a massive water shortage, private toilets become a thing of the past, leaving only public toilets controlled by a megacorporation that forces patrons to pay to use the restroom. Those who break the law are banished from society forever and sent to a deserted colony called “Urinetown.” The local rendition of the musical is on an open run until Aug. 2 at the Hongik University Daehangno Art Center. Ticket prices range from 40,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, visit www.iseensee.com.

“Jesus Christ Superstar”: The globally popular musical rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” is the beloved love child of Broadway legends Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The musical is loosely based on the life of the last week of Jesus’ time on Earth, highlighting the personal and political struggles of Judas and Jesus and then the crucifixion. The Korean version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” runs at the Charlotte Theater in Seoul until to Sept. 13. Ticket prices range from 50,000 won to 140,000 won. For more information, call 1577-3363.

“Phantom”: An American musical based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel “Phantom of the Opera” got its Korean premiere in April, with singer Park Hyo-shin and international soprano Im Sun-hae in the lead roles. Produced by the Seoul-based EMK Musical Company, the Korean rendition of “Phantom” will continue through Aug. 2 at Chungmu Art Hall in Seoul. Tickets cost 50,000 won to 140,000 won. For details, call (02) 577-6478.

“Death Note”: A new musical based on the Japanese cartoon and film series of the same title, “Death Note” will open in Seoul in June, two months after its world premiere in Japan. The Korean rendition stars two of the country’s top musical actors, Hong Kwang-ho and Kim Jun-su. The music is composed by Frank Wildhorn (“Jekyll and Hyde”), with the book and lyrics by Ivan Menchell (“Bonnie and Clyde”) and Jack Murphy (“Monte Cristo”). “Death Note” is being staged until Aug. 9 at the Seongnam Arts Center Opera House. For inquiries, call (02) 1577-3363.

“Chicago -- Original Cast”: The original Broadway cast for “Chicago” -- the longest-running American musical in Broadway history -- will be making its way back to Seoul this summer. The six-time Tony Award winner is a dynamic tale of passion, lust and murder against the backdrop of 1920s Chicago in the roaring jazz music era. The production features cast members from the U.S. Tour Company and is being held at the National Theater of Korea until Aug. 8. Ticket prices range from 40,000 won to 140,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1555.

“Elisabeth”: The local reinterpretation of the original Viennese musical “Elisabeth” will be returning to the musical stage, with popular K-pop star Se7en taking on his debut musical role as “death” or “der tod.” All eyes are on the K-pop star as he is filling in the shoes of mega Hallyu star Kim Jun-su of JYJ, who was previously cast in the same role during the show’s 2012-2013 run. The musical tells the tale of an Austrian empress and her growing obsession with death as her life progresses. The musical is on an open run until Sept. 6 at Blue Square in Hannam-dong, Seoul. Ticket prices range from 60,000 won to 140,000 won. For more information call, (02) 6391-6333.

DANCE

“Chang Mu International Dance Festival in Seoul”: Korea Arts Center – Performing Arts Center is hosting a series of dance performances around the world from July 27 to Aug. 4. The festival will begin with Maori contemporary dance troupe Atamira Dance Company. More than 20 dance companies and choreographers from countries including Korea, Japan, Finland and Indonesia are gearing up for the festival. Ticket prices range from 20,000 won to 50,000 won. Discounted packages and student discounts are also available. For more information, contact (02) 3668-0007.

“Rice”: The internationally recognized Taiwanese choreographer Lin Hwai-min is presenting his renditions about rice and nature at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul from Sept. 11-12. Lin’s dance troupe Cloud Gate Theater will feature projections of paddy fields and chronicle the cyclical changes of nature in an homage to farmers. Ticket prices for “Rice” range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For details, contact (02) 2005-0114.


A scene from the Taiwanese modern dance production of, “Rice.” (LG Arts Center)
A scene from the Taiwanese modern dance production of, “Rice.” (LG Arts Center)

“Ballet with Commentary -- Don Quixote”: Following “Swan Lake,” the Korean National Ballet will be performing another classic masterpiece, “Don Quixote.” The plot follows the storyline of Cervantes’ classical novel of the same title, as Don Quixote embarks on a journey for love and adventure. “Don Quixote” with commentary will be staged from Sept. 17-20 at National Theater of Korea. For details, visit www.kballet.org

EXHIBITIONS

“Stream, Streaming Persona”: PKM Gallery presents a group exhibition of international artists who explore new media and the state-of-the-art technology. The artists, including Jeong Young-do, Lee Won-woo, Maxrelax and fashion designer Kathleen Kye, present their own virtual world reflecting their personalities and containing messages to today’s youth. The exhibition runs from July 22 to Aug. 15 at PKM Gallery, Samcheong-ro, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 734-9467.

“Devout Patrons of Buddhist Art”: The National Museum of Korea sheds light on the devout patrons of Buddhist art who commissioned artists and temples to make some of the great works of Buddhist art from the Three Kingdoms period (B.C. 18-A.D. 935) to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The exhibition reveals stories and wishes behind the makings of Buddhist paintings, sutras and statues. It runs through Aug. 2. For more information, visit www.museum.go.kr or call (02) 2077-9000.

“Exquisite and Precious: The Splendor of Korean Art”: Samsung Museum of Art, Leeum, presents 130 artifacts from the last two millennia that highlight the exquisite beauty of Korean art in a new exhibition. The exhibition reveals rare pieces of Korean art such as the gilt-bronze incense burner of Baekje (18 B.C.-A.D. 660) and lacquerwares inlaid with mother-of-pearl that date back to the 8th to 10th century Unified Silla period. The exhibition runs until Sept. 13. For more information, visit www.leeum.org.


A scene from “Like Me Now,” five-channel video by Maxrelax (Courtesy of the artist and PKM Gallery)
A scene from “Like Me Now,” five-channel video by Maxrelax (Courtesy of the artist and PKM Gallery)

“Vivian Maier X Garry Winogrand”: Sungkok Art Museum is holding a photo exhibition of two great American street photographers, Vivian Maier (1926-2009) and Garry Winogrand (1928-1984), for the first time in Asia. The exhibition reveals the unknown world of Maier, who worked as a nanny in Chicago for 40 years while secretly taking more than 100,000 photographs. Her pictures, hidden in storage, were discovered by filmmaker John Maloof, who later created the film “Finding Vivian Maier” in 2013. The exhibition also features 85 photographs by renowned photographer Garry Winogrand from New York, whose works portrayed American life from the 1950s through the 1980s. The section titled “Women Are Beautiful” shows spontaneous photos of women Winogrand took on the streets of New York. The exhibition runs from July 2 to Sept. 20 at Sungkok Art Museum on Gyeonghuigung-gil, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 737-8643.

“Wilderness into a Garden”: British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare is holding a solo exhibition at Daegu Art Museum, bringing 80 works of art including sculptures, installations and video works under the six themes of money, play, empire, conflict, environment and love. The artist criticizes imperialism and the colonialism of the West through the installations of mannequins wearing traditional African costumes in bright colors, an attempt by the artist to connect with Korea’s history and culture that suffered under colonialism. The exhibition runs until Oct. 18 at Daegu Art Museum in Daegu. For more information, visit www.daeguartmuseum.org.

POP MUSIC

“Nate Ruess”: The lead singer of the New York indie pop trio fun. will head to Korea for his first solo concert. The performance will be on a leg of Ruess’ tour to promote his solo project album “Grand Romantic,” which was released June 16. Ruess’ performance will reflect the alternative pop style of fun. heard in hits like “We Are Young” and “Some Nights,” while showing his range as a soloist. The concert will take place on July 28 at the Yes24 MUV Hall in Seoul. Tickets are standing only at 77,000 won. For more information, visit www.interpark.com.

“Epik High -- Now Playing”: The hip-hop trio Epik High, known for witty and poetic lyrics and catchy melodies, will perform a concert in Seoul after wrapping up a tour of Asia and North America. The group will perform in a small venue in order to communicate as closely as possible with its fans and will design the concert to include theatric themes of action, human, melodrama, horror, sci-fi and eroticism. The concert hits the stage eight times over six days, from July 31-Aug. 2 and Aug. 7-9 at Sogang University’s Mary Hall Theater. Tickets are 88,000 won. For more information, visit www.interpark.com.

“Baek A-yeon -- Whispering the First Story”: The young singer-songwriter who made headlines this year by continuously moving up the charts with her original song “Shouldn’t Have” is holding her first small theater shows. The six-day run will give Baek, a former contestant on “Kpop Star” who signed with JYP Entertainment, a chance to get up close and personal with her fans. The concerts will take place on Aug. 7, 8, 9 and 14, 15, 16 at the Veloso theater in Hongdae. All tickets are 55,000 won. For more information, visit www.interpark.com.


Baek A-yeon (JYP Entertainment)
Baek A-yeon (JYP Entertainment)

“Imagine Dragons Live in Seoul”: American alternative rockers Imagine Dragons will be holding their first solo concert in Seoul as part of their world tour promoting their second album “Smoke + Mirrors.” The band, which catapulted itself to stardom with the debut album “Night Visions” in 2012, visited Seoul last year to perform the theme song “Warriors” for the “League of Legends” world championship round. Imagine Dragons takes the stage at Olympic Hall in Seoul’s Olympic Park on Aug. 13. Tickets range from 66,000 won to 88,000 won. For more information, visit www.interpark.com.

CLASSICAL MUSIC

“Paik Kun-woo Piano Recital”: Once considered one of the most influential pianists of his generation, the 70-year-old Paik Kun-woo will be making his way back to the stage this fall. The pianist is slated to perform Scriabin’s 24 Preludes and Rachmaninov’s Piano Sonata No. 1. The recital will be held at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall for one night only on Sept. 22. Ticket prices range from 50,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, call 02-599-5743.

Pianist Paik Kun-woo. (Vincero)
Pianist Paik Kun-woo. (Vincero)

“Chung Myung-whun Baton Special”: Respected pianist and conductor Chung Myung-whun will be taking the helm of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra for a special classical concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral” and Symphony No. 7. The recital will be held at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall on Aug. 28 with ticket prices range from 10,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call 1588-1210.

“Park Concert – Chung Myung-whun”: Chung Myung-whun will also lead the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra at this year’s 6th Credia Park outdoor classical music concert. The performance will feature Chung on the piano in a highly anticipated collaboration with world-renowned cellist Mischa Maisky and local violinist Zia Hyunsu Shin. The concert will be held at the Seoul Olympic Park’s 88 Lawn on Sept. 6. Ticket prices range from 40,000 won to 80,000 won. For more information, call 1577-5266.

“Itzhak Perlman Violin Recital”: Itzhak Perlman, one of the most renowned violinist virtuosos in the world, is going to give the audience his classical violin performance, accompanied by Rohan De Silva, the famous Sri Lankan pianist, on Nov. 15 at Seoul Arts Center. Apart from scheduled violin concertos by Beethoven, Brahms and Ravel, the rest will be spontaneously performed on the spot. Ticket prices range from 60,000 won to 180,000 won. For more information, contact (02) 1577-5266.

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