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Pandemic-hit musicals on strong rebound

Though the COVID-19 pandemic continues to restrict many aspects of our lives, the local musical scene has been striving to bounce back.

After the government relaxed the social distancing rules for performing arts venues in early February, local musical productions have been recording sell-outs with musical fans returning to theaters.

According to the Korea Performing Arts Box Office Information System (KOPIS), aggregate ticket sales of performing arts productions recorded 16.7 billion won in February, marking a fourfold increase from 3.7 billion won in January.

The sales for February was even higher than the 15.6 billion won recorded in November, before the social distancing level was raised to Level 2.5. The number of performing art shows in February increased to 431 from 351 in January.

 
A scene from musical “Man of La Mancha” (OD Company)
A scene from musical “Man of La Mancha” (OD Company)

Hit musicals “Man of La Mancha” and “Wicked” have been leading the rebound.

Musical “Man of La Mancha” featuring star actors Cho Seung-woo, Ryu Jung-han and Hong Gwang-ho, among others, which opened on Fe. 2 at the Charlotte Theater, recorded sellouts for most of its monthlong run.

The musical has wrapped up its Seoul run, but will soon return for more performances at the Chungmu Arts Center and continue until May 16.
 
A scene from musical “Wicked” (Clip Service)
A scene from musical “Wicked” (Clip Service)

Musical “Wicked,” which opened at Blue Square on Feb. 12 has also been recording sell-outs, featuring big names such as Ock Ju-hyun and Jung Sun-ah. The show will move to Busan after its last performance in Seoul on May 1.

Smaller musicals are also recording sell outs. 

A scene from musical “Who Lives in Kuroi Mansion?” (Arts Council Korea)
A scene from musical “Who Lives in Kuroi Mansion?” (Arts Council Korea)

Comedy musical “Who Lives in Kuroi Mansion?” which opened at Plus Theater on Feb. 18 has been a hit. Tickets for the shows until the closing date on March 21 are sold out.

The play, selected through the Chungmu Art Center’s debut program for writers in 2018, is set during the Japanese colonial period, telling the story of the ghosts living at Kuroi Mansion.

More musicals are in store this spring, although the government’s middle-seat vacancy rule for performing arts venues has not been lifted. Theaters can sell tickets for half of the total number of seats.

Musical “Phantom,” based on the novel by French writer Gaston Leroux, is to start its Seoul run on March 17. This season, the show will feature soprano Lim Sun-hae as the female lead Christine Daae, along with stage actors Kim So-hyun, Lee Ji-hye and Kim Sue.

The licensed version of the Broadway musical “The Great Comet” is set for its Korean debut. The musical was to open last September, but was postponed due to the virus pandemic. Based on the epic novel “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy in 1869, the musical had its premiere in Off-Broadway’s Ars Nova in 2012 and moved to Broadway in 2016.

It will run from March 21 to May 30 at the Universal Arts Center.

“Chicago,” a steady seller which had 15 seasons in Korea over the last 20 years, is set for a return. Singers Ivy and Min Kyung-ah will return as the iconic Roxie Hart with the new addition of Tiffany from the megahit K-pop girl group Girls Generation. The show will run from April 2 to July 18 at D-cube Arts Center.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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