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[Herald Review] Doomed but eternal love of ‘Dracula’

Musical starring former K-pop idol Kim Jun-su continues winning streak despite COVID-19

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak shutting down most performing arts shows, the house was nearly full at Friday’s performance of “Dracula: The Musical,” with fans eager to see singer Kim Jun-su’s portrayal of the lonely yet romantic vampire.

The musical began its run on Feb. 11 at Charlotte Theater in eastern Seoul. While the performing art scene suffers badly due to the health crisis, the hit musical show has been recording an average admission rate of 95 percent.
Singer Kim Jun-su is Count Dracula in “Dracula: The Musical.” (OD Company)
Singer Kim Jun-su is Count Dracula in “Dracula: The Musical.” (OD Company)

The story of “Dracula: The Musical” revolves around Count Dracula. Young lawyer Jonathan Harker visits Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania to fix a deal. Learning that Jonathan’s fiancee Mina Murray looks much like his departed wife, Count Dracula goes after her in London.

While Mina is confused between her feelings for Jonathan and Count Dracula, vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing becomes aware that Count Dracula is residing in London. He tracks him down to avenge his wife’s death.

Kim Jun-su, playing Count Dracula, is a celebrated musical star. As a former K-pop singer who was a member of boy band TVXQ, Kim earned the nickname “Xiacul” through the show in reference to his former stage name Xia.

Having starred in the show’s previous two seasons in Korea, Kim reprises the role of Count Dracula for a third season, for which Kim has dyed his hair bright red to visualize the lust for blood.

Getting a ticket for any musical starring Kim is a difficult feat to achieve under normal circumstances, but the spread of the highly contagious respiratory illness has left some seats in the rear empty. As a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus, the audience had to pass by a thermal imaging camera at the entrance to the theater, and patrons were instructed to wear masks at all times during the performance.

The score for “Dracula: The Musical” was written by American songwriter Frank Wildhorn. Though the show is quite grotesque and full of blood, the most-celebrated number is the sweet love duet “Loving You Keeps Me Alive,” sung by Count Dracula and Mina Murray.

Kim’s unique voice completely matched the show’s atmosphere, portraying a lonely yet romantic vampire. As a former K-pop star, Kim’s movements were swift and fast.

Though the musical is based on the titular Bram Stoker novel, some parts of the plot come out awkwardly. Not much explanation is given as to how Count Dracula realizes Mina Murray is his true love, or vice versa.

Backing up Kim, veteran singers Ryu Jung-han and Jeon Dong-suk also take on the role of Count Dracula. The musical runs until July 7. Ticket prices range from 30,000 won to 150,000 won.

By Im Eun-byel (