“Without You” : Based on musical star Anthony Rapp’s best-selling memoir of the same title, the musical “Without You” brings to life Rapp’s turbulent personal journey in the late 1990s. Rapp, best known for the role of Mark in Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award-and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Rent,” plays himself in the upcoming musical in Seoul. The show chronicles Rapp’s making of “Rent,” especially after Larson’s sudden death from a heart attack just a day before the premiere. The show also deals with Rapp’s struggle with his sexual orientation. He came out as a bisexual in 1992, and has been openly involved with LGBT activism. The show runs from Feb. 10 to March 4 SangSang Art Hall in Daechi-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 44,000 won to 66,000 won. For more information, call (02) 1544-1681.
A scene from musical “Without You” (New Venture Entertainment)
“Elisabeth”: After welcoming the local adaptations of Czech musical “Hamlet” and London’s West End musical “Zorro” recently, Korea’s theater scene is seeing the arrival of another European show, this time about the real-life 19th-century legendary Austrian Empress Elisabeth (1837-1898). Starring former girl group FIN.K.L. member-turned-musical actress Ok Ju-hyun, actor Song Chang-ui and K-pop group JYJ member and rising musical star Kim Jun-su, the musical portrays the life and death of the beautiful yet unhappy empress who is constantly seduced by the spirit of death. “Elisabeth” runs at Blue Square Samsung Electronics Hall in Seoul from Feb. 9 to May 13. For tickets and information, call (02) 6391-6333 or visit www.musicalelisabeth.com
“Roly Poly”: Girl group T-ara’s 2011 retro-heavy hit single “Roly Poly” is back ― only this time as a stage musical with the same nostalgic flash of the 1970s and ‘80s. Three members of the girl group ― Jiyeon, Hyomin and Soyeon ― star as reckless teenagers in Korea’s 1980s in the upcoming musical “Roly Poly,” teamed up with older-generation heavyweights including popular musical actress Park Hae-mi and “Nagasu” star singer Jang Hye-jin. The show features four middle-aged high school friends who reunite at a friend’s funeral and reminisce about their good old days as school girls. The musical numbers include Stevie Wonder’s 1969 song “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday,” Madonna’s 1984 hit “Like a Virgin,” the Carpenters’ 1970 song “Close to You” and T-ara’s “Roly Poly,” whose music video concept was the basis of the show. The show runs from Jan. 13 to Feb. 25 at Seongnam Arts Center’s Opera House. Tickets range from 77,000 won to 110,000 won. For tickets and information, call 1577-3363.
“God of Carnage”: The Korean adaptation of celebrated French playwright Yasmina Reza’s black comedy “God of Carnage” is being staged in Seoul for the second time. The play begins as two pairs of middle-class parents meet to discuss why one couple’s child broke the front teeth of the other couple’s child. Though both parties try to remain “civilized” and “well-mannered” in the beginning of the meeting, they end up becoming childish and end up physically attacking each other while drunk. The film adaptation of the play, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster, opened in theaters in the U.S. two weeks ago. The show runs until Feb. 12 at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul. For tickets and information, call (02) 1544-1555.
“Guess How Much I Love You”: The Korean adaptation of “Guess How Much I Love You,” a musical based on the children’s book of the same title by British writer Sam McBratney, is being staged once again in Seoul. The show premiered in Korea in January at Wonderspace Triangle Theater in Daehangno, Seoul, and was staged in more than eight venues nationwide, including KBS Ulsan Hall and MBC Art Hall in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. A story of two hares telling how much they love each other, the simple tale offers both life lessons and touching insights for both grownups and children. The show runs until Feb. 26 at Dongyang Art Hall in southern Seoul, near Sinsa subway station line no. 3. Tickets cost 30,000 won. For tickets and information, call (02) 6711-1400.
“200 Pound Beauty”: Former girl group S.E.S. member Bada stars as an obese singer who turns into a beauty by receiving a series of plastic surgeries, in the musical adaptation of the famous 2006 romantic comedy film of the same title. The show, which was first premiered in local theaters in 2008, also started its Japanese tour in October. Telling the story of Han-byul, the former overweight lip-sync vocalist who becomes a popular singer after getting a plastic surgery-makeover, the show delves into the theme of self worth and universal desire for affection. KARA member Park Gyu-ri shares the role with Bada. The show runs until Feb. 5 of next year at Chungmu Art Hall in Seoul. For tickets and information, call (02) 1544-1555.
“Musical Winter Sonata”: Based on KBS’ 2002 mega hit drama series of the same name, “Musical Winter Sonata” is a heart-wrenching love story. Using the beautiful winter scenery of Chuncheon, Gangwon Province as a sentimental background, the show tells the story of two people unable to let go of their first loves. The TV version received an enthusiastic reception both home and abroad, especially in Japan. The musical is directed by Yoon Suk-ho, who directed the TV series, while Oh Eun-hee composed the music. The show runs until March 18, at Myungbo Art Hall in central Seoul. Tickets cost 50,000 won. For tickets and information, call (02) 1544-1555, or (070) 7019-6707.
“This is Modern 3”: Universal Ballet Theater presents the third installment in the “This is Modern” series in which the dance company offers four modern dances by established choreographers. The show is composed with Jiri Kylian’s “Petite Mort” and “SECHS TANZE,” William Forsythe’s “In the Middle, Somewhat Eleated” and Ohad Naharin’s “MINUS 7.” The show will run from Feb. 18-19 at Universal Art Center in Neung-dong, eastern Seoul, from Feb. 28-29 at Parthenon Tama Cultural Center in Tokyo, from April 14-15 at The National Theater in Taipei in Taiwan. For the Seoul show, tickets range from 10,000-70,000 won. For more information, visit www.uac.co.kr.
A scene from Universal Ballet Company’s “This is Modern 3” (UBC)
“Giselle”: Korea National Ballet will stage the acclaimed “Giselle,” which marked the company’s first-ever sell-out last year. The 19th century French classical ballet will be choreographed by Patrice Bart, first ballet master and associate director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet, like last year. It will run from March 1-4 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 5,000-50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 580-1300 or visit www.kballet.org.
“Legend of Flower 2”: Walkerhill presents a Korean cultural dinner show which mixes traditional dance with contemporary elements. The show tells a compelling, romantic tale revolving around two lovers. It features 248 outfits, 108 traditional props and instruments to add grandeur to four scenes ― flower, water and fire, wind, and golden earth. The five drum dance is the highlight of the performance. The show has an open run at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill’s “Walkerhill Theater” in Gwangjang-dong, eastern Seoul. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 300,000 won. For more information, call (02) 455-5000 or visit www.legendofflower.com.
“Miso”: Translated as “beautiful smile,” this musical offers a compact presentation of everything Korean culture first-timers could wish for. It blends ten different kinds of traditional dances, five traditional games and a wedding ritual into the storyline based on a well-known folktale, “The Tale of Chunhyang.” There are very few spoken lines throughout the performance, making it ideal for audiences of diverse nationalities. “Miso” is showing as an open run at Chongdong Theater in Jeong-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 751-1500 or visit www.koreamiso.com.
“Earth from Above ― It’s My Home”: French aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand reminds us of what we have been missing out on through photos of different landscapes that are so mystical that they seem almost fictional. At the exhibition here currently under way at Seoul Museum of Art in Seosomun-dong, central Seoul, the photographer showcases 220 breathtaking photos of the Earth captured from above. The exhibition runs through March 15. Tickets range from 6,000-10,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3789-8697 or visit seoulmoa.seoul.go.kr.
“Car breakers, Saint-Brieuc, Cote d’Armor, France,” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (Yann Arthus-Bertrand)
“Orchid and Bamboo”: Hakgojae Gallery in Sogyeok-dong, central Seoul, is showcasing orchid and bamboo paintings and writings by two late Joseon-era/modern artists ― Gim Eung-won (1855-1921) and Gim Gyu-jin (1868-1933), hoping to make New Year “as fragrant as orchid scent and peaceful as the wind bamboo creates.” The exhibition features 34 works by the two, including one which they worked together on. The exhibition runs through Feb. 19 at Hakgojae Gallery in Sogyeok-dong, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 720-1524~6 or visit www.hakgojae.com.
“Access to Life”: Eight renowned photographers from the Magnum Photos agency, including Steve McCurry, took before and after photos of people with HIV/AIDS who were saved from the brink of death thanks to timely treatment. The project, a collaboration between the New York-based photography cooperative and Global Fund, showcases 550 photos and nine documentary films. It runs through March 4 at Seoul Arts Center’s Hangaram Art Museum in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 5,000 won to 10,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2277-2438 or visit www.theglobalfund.org/accesstolife.
“David LaChapelle in Seoul”: Celebrated photographer David LaChapelle’s most comprehensive solo exhibition in Asia is under way at Seoul Arts Center’s Hangaram Design Center in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. It features over 200 of his signature celebrity and fashion photos as well as his latest works that weigh more on purely artistic and critical values, but retain their wit and daring. The exhibition runs through Feb. 26. Tickets range from 6,000 won to 13,000 won. For more information, call (02) 566-0835 or visit www.dicseoul.com.
“Tell Me Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976-2011”: The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, is holding a cultural exchange exhibition with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Taking the year 1976, when important Korean artists visited Australia with their works for the Biennale of Sydney, as the starting point, the exhibition introduces 130 works by key contemporary Korean and Australian artists. The exhibition runs through Feb. 19, 2012. Admission is 5,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2188-6114 or visit www.moca.go.kr.
“Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life”: The exhibition shows the complexity, resilience, and vulnerability of the human body by displaying more than 200 pieces of plastinated human bodies. Divided into four sections, the show presents the human life cycle and aging ― from prenatal development to old age ― by displaying a remarkable collection ranging from plastinated embryos to findings on geographic clusters around the world where the oldest living people live. The exhibition is held as open run at The War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 6,000 won to 15,000 won. For more information, call (02) 541-6235 or visit www.bodyworlds.kr.
“The Paju Provence Light Festival”: Under the theme “A Love Story With Light,” the Grand Open Provence in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, has been decorated with some 4 million LED lamps in various shades. The festival, which opened on Nov. 19 last year, will run through April 1 at the massive park just outside of Seoul. The festival features the nation’s largest light tunnel, a “love park” with four different hearts, which is a great place for couples, and various other light-works. Organizers have been preparing for the festival for a year and three months for perfection. Tickets cost 5,000 won for adults and 3,000 won for students. For more information, call (031) 945-7547 or visit www.provence.co.kr
“International C+Music Winter Festival 2012”: The second music festival featuring up-and-coming musicians from in and out of Korea will take place in Bucheon. The first event was held last year with organizers vowing to find new talent and stimulate international exchanges among them. The festival, featuring rock, ballad, jazz, classic and other genres of music, will be joined by Winter Color, Heritage, Moon Soo-jung, Travel Sketch, NCM and more. The festival will be held Jan. 26-28 at the Boksagol Cultural Center in Bucheon. For more information, visit www.cmusicwinter.com.
Poster for International C+Music Winter Festival 2012
“The 107th Seoul Comic World”: The event for amateur cartoon and animation authors will be held Feb.11-12 at SETEC, southern Seoul. The first event took place in 1999. The upcoming event will provide up-and-coming cartoonists with the chance to introduce and even sell their works to visitors. Contests will be held on the sectors of illustration, storytelling and costume play. To display and sell their works, authors must send applications and works to firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of the event. Tickets will cost 4,000 won with special discounts to group visitors of more than 20 people. For more information, call (02) 3142-2137 or visit www.comicw.co.kr.
“The 16th Seoul International Building Material & Decoration Fair”: The 2012 festival for construction and decoration will be held Jan. 28 through Feb. 1 at COEX, introducing works from some 20 countries around the world. Some of the themes of the fair include energy saving, urban design, art on and for public buildings, timber construction, electrical installations and prefabricated buildings. To register, applicants must download the application form at the event website. For more information, call (02) 6309-1004 or visit www.homdex.com.
“Bobby McFerrin Concert:” American vocalist Bobby McFerrin, best known for the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” will return to Korea for a third time. McFerrin is known for his unique musical style that features percussive vocalizations and body rhythms. He has performed with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and jazz pianist Chick Corea and conducted orchestras around the world. Tickets to the concert, which will be held on March 8 at the Olympic Park Olympic Hall, will range from 88,000 to 132,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1555.
“Il Divo Concert”: The world-famous popera group that sold over 2.5 million albums will tour Korea with a concert at the Jamsil Stadium on March 3. The four-member band is comprised of David Miller, Sebastien Izambard, Carlos Marin and Urs Buhler, who are each from a different country: the U.S., France, Spain and Switzerland. Together they create a unique musical atmosphere that has been loved by fans all over the world for the past years. Tickets to Il Divo’s concert will cost from 99,000 to 220,000 won. For more information, all (02) 407-2589.
“The Last SG Wanna Be”: The popular three-member boy band will perform for fans in Seoul as part of a national concert tour that started off in October last year. The ballad and R&B group is a rare act in Korea, with its popularity among both the younger audience in their 20s and 30s and the older generation with many hit songs including, “La la la” and “Crime and Punishment.” The Jan. 27-28 Seoul concert will be the last encore concert, and is expected to run for 150 minutes, according to organizers. Slated for the COEX Hall D in southern Seoul, concert tickets range from 77,000 to 110,000 won. For more information, call 1566-1360.
“Halie Loren Jazz Quartet Concert”: Jazz vocalist and songwriter Halie Loren is a noticeable singer in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Her 2008 CD “They Oughta Write a Song” won the 2009 Just Plain Folks award for Best Vocal Jazz Album and subsequently received international distribution and acclaim, becoming the No. 2-selling jazz album in Japan. Halie Loren’s concert will be held at Womenhall in Yongin City on Feb. 25. Tickets cost 20,000 won. For more information, call (031) 324-8994~5.
“Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra”: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra will perform on Feb. 21-22 under the baton of Chung Myung-whun at Seoul Arts Center. The Korean conductor will lead a program of Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta,” Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. This will be followed by another concert on Feb. 22 with a program of the Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with London-based pianist Kim Sun-wook and the Brahms Symphony No. 2.
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
The RCO is a symphony orchestra from the Netherlands, based at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and is considered one of the world’s top symphony orchestras. Tickets to the upcoming Seoul concert will range from 70,000 to 400,000 won. For more information, call 1577-5266.
“Joys of Strings New Year Concert”: The Joy of Strings will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a New Year’s concert called “Dream of Dragon” on Jan. 20. Through the years, the group has performed at the Seoul Arts Center, Busan Cultural Center, Gyeonggi Arts Center and others, in addition to appearing on television shows such as EBS’s “Space Sympathy.” The upcoming program will include Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor BWV 1043 and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Three Violins and String Orchestra. Tickets to the concert, which will be held at the Seoul Arts Center, IBK Chamber Hall, range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. For information, call 1544-1555.
“2012 Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra & Thomanerchor”: The Gewandhaus Orchestra and Thomanerchor will visit Korea for the third time to perform Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the world, named after the concert hall based in Leipzig. The Thomanerchor, or St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig, is a boys’ choir founded in 1212. At present, the choir consists of 92 boys, 9 to 18 years of age. The orchestra will be conducted by Georg Christoph Biller. Tickets to the concert, held at the Seoul Arts Center on Feb. 23, will range from 30,000 to 180,000 won. For more information, call (02) 599-5743.
“London Symphony Orchestra”: Britain’s top orchestra will be performing in Seoul for the first time in six years. The orchestra was founded in 1904 as an independent, self-governing organization, the first such orchestra in Britain. It performed its first concert on June 9 of that year, with Hans Richter conducting. The orchestra has long been considered the most extrovert of the London orchestras. Now conducted by Valery Gergiev, the concert will feature violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Denis Matsuev. Tickets to the concert, held Feb. 27-28 at the Seoul Arts Center, will range from 70,000 to 350,000 won. For more information, please call (02) 599-5743.