Cho Seung-woo stars in “Man of La Mancha.” (OD Company)
Musical “Man of La Mancha” sings of the need to dream in the COVID-19 pandemic-hit era.
The Korean-language version, licensed from the Broadway musical production, recently ran at the Charlotte Theater in eastern Seoul after the government relaxed social distancing rules for performing arts theaters with a middle-seat vacancy rule. Prior to the opening, it had been postponed three times.
The plot is an adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote.” Taking the play-within-play format, the story begins in a dungeon in Spain, featuring Cervantes himself as the lead character.
Cervantes has been imprisoned for blasphemy. He is put on a mock trial where he defends himself in front of other prisoners in the form of a play acted out by himself. He transforms himself into Alonso Quijano, an old man who believes he is a knight on a mission.
Quijano renames himself as the iconic character Don Quixote de La Mancha, famously known for his attempt to fight windmills.
At Friday’s performance, actor Cho Seung-woo shone in his role as Cervantes and Don Quixote alike. In a musical with lengthy dialogue, Cho, with two decades on the silver screen and TV, swiftly switched between the two characters, sometimes a young poet and playwright, sometimes an old, mad man.
The musical’s signature number “The Impossible Dream” in the last part of the first act was the highlight of the evening as Don Quixote comes back to the identity of Cervantes and sings, “This is my quest, to follow that star / No matter how hopeless, no matter how far.”
“Man of La Mancha” (OD Company)
The Broadway hit opened in 2005 in Korea at the National Theater of Korea. It was on the stage in Korea for nine seasons, attracting 700,000 audience members across 761 performances.
This season, stage actors Ryu Jung-han, Cho Seung-woo and Hong Kwang-ho play Cervantes. The Seoul engagement of the show wrapped up Monday after a monthlong run. It will move to Daejeon from March 10 to 14.
After the brief Daejeon run, it will return to Seoul on March 24 at the Chungmu Arts Center and continue until May 16.
By Im Eun-byel (email@example.com