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[Herald Review] Ok Joo-hyun dazzles as seductress Mata Hari

Tackling the highly-anticipated role of the world’s most notorious female spies, Ok Joo-hyun is simply unforgettable as leading lady in the new musical, “Mata Hari at the Moulin Rouge.”

In a world premiere production brought to us by the collective the minds of Tony Award-winning Broadway megastars – director-choreographer Jeff Calhoun, with music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Jack Murphy and writer Ivan Menchell – all eyes were on the former K-pop star-turned-musical actress as the sinfully alluring, real-life Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari.

Assuredly a role that she will forever be known for in the local musical scene, Ok’s haunting vocals and mere stage presence made her simply mesmerizing throughout the production. The actress not only succeeded seducing the leading men on stage with her tantalizing movement and raw sex appeal, but the audience as well.   

Ok Joo-hyun stars in new musical “Mata Hari at the Moulin Rouge.” (EMK)
Ok Joo-hyun stars in new musical “Mata Hari at the Moulin Rouge.” (EMK)

Not only did Ok had the looks to poignantly portray the leading femme fatale, but it’s also no secret to theatergoers that Ok has the strong vocal chops that makes her one of the few idol stars-turned-theater actors that receives the musical stamp of approval by the masses.

Set in France in 1917, the musical tells the tale of a dancer called Margaretha MacLeod, better known by her stage name Mata Hari.

Creating a sensation with her “Temple Dance” routines, Mata Hari rockets to fame and performs all around Europe. However, her glory days are soon given a sudden jolt by her encounter with Gen. Ladoux of the French Espionage Committee.

As a dancer, Mata Hari is free to travel across borders despite the war -- a privilege that the French were hoping to use to their advantage. The general blackmails the dancer into using her skills of seduction to become a spy.

In the midst of her ethical turmoil, Mata Hari ends up falling in love with a young pilot named Armand. However, the flames of their love are quickly extinguished when the dastardly Ladoux realizes his love for the temptress and uses his power to separate the two young lovers. 

Ok Joo-hyun stars in new musical “Mata Hari at the Moulin Rouge.” (EMK)
Ok Joo-hyun stars in new musical “Mata Hari at the Moulin Rouge.” (EMK)

Along with the stunning choreography and extravagant stage settings, part of the historical interest of the musical is that it is in part based on what is believed to be true events. Although the truth of Mata Hari’s role as a spy remains a mystery, the real-life Mata Hari was nevertheless convicted of espionage and executed.

The musical also stars Sophie Kim as Mata Hari; Ryu Jung-han, Kim Jun-hyun and Shin Seong-rok as General Ladoux; with Song Chang-eui and Jun Taek-woon sharing the role of Armand.

“Mata Hari at the Moulin Rouge” will be staged daily (except Mondays) at Blue Square in Hannam-dong until June 12. Ticket prices range from 60,000 won to 140,000 won. For more information, call 1577-6478.

By Julie Jackson (
Korea Herald daum