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Korean production of 'The Phantom of the Opera' to return after 13 years

(From left, top) Four actors, Cho Seung-woo, Choi Jae-rim, Julian Kim and Jeon Dong-suk, will play the Phantom. (From bottom, left) Sohn Ji-soo and Song Eun-hye take the role of Christine and Song Won-geun and Hwang Gun-ha will perform as Raoul. Actor Cho Seung-woo will play the Phantom. (S&CO)
(From left, top) Four actors, Cho Seung-woo, Choi Jae-rim, Julian Kim and Jeon Dong-suk, will play the Phantom. (From bottom, left) Sohn Ji-soo and Song Eun-hye take the role of Christine and Song Won-geun and Hwang Gun-ha will perform as Raoul. Actor Cho Seung-woo will play the Phantom. (S&CO)

The Korean production of the musical “The Phantom of the Opera” is returning for the first time in 13 years.

The third Korean-language revival after the 2001 and 2009 runs, the latest production is set to premiere in Busan and will feature headlining actor Cho Seung-woo, musical actor Jeon Dong-suk and baritone Julian Kim as the Phantom. Sohn Ji-soo and Song Eun-hye will take the role of Christine.

The Busan performances will kick off at Dream Theatre, a venue dedicated to musicals, on March 30 after a preview from March 25 to 29.

After wrapping up in Korea's second-largest city on June 18, "The Phantom of the Opera” will take the stage in Seoul from July 14 to Nov. 17, with musical actor Choi Jae-rim also joining the cast as the Phantom.

The main cast members are performing in "The Phantom of the Opera” for the first time.

“I'm really happy that it came at a time I was ready to take on the role, which is a dream role for a musical actor,” Choi said.

Actor Cho Seung-woo will play the role of Phantom. (S&CO)
Actor Cho Seung-woo will play the role of Phantom. (S&CO)

Cho, who is performing in a new musical for the first time in eight years, said he was honored to join the production.

"I've been on stage for more than 20 years but it is hard to tell when I might be able to perform Phantom again (in the future). This is truly a precious opportunity and I will do my best," said Cho.

It was not possible to stage the musical, one of the longest-running shows on Broadway and at West End, sooner in Korea because of the scale and production costs, an official at the production company S&CO said.

“For this production, we will replicate the originality of the musical,” the official said.

The first production in 2001 in Korea generated 19.2 billion won ($15.4 million) in ticket sales with an audience of about 240,000 for 244 performances. At the time, Korea’s musical industry was worth about 3 billion won, and it was a huge commercial success that highlighted the potential of the musical market.

In 2005, the original team visiting Korea attracted 195,000 people and the 2009 local production was watched by some 300,000 people.

By the time the international tour with the original team had ended its run in 2013, the number of audience members in Korea that had attended either a local or international production hit 1 million, a barometer of success for a musical in Korea.

Marking 35 years on Broadway, “The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running musical in Broadway's history, will be staged for the last time on April 16 at the Majestic Theatre. The flagship London production will continue.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical, based on the 1910 French novel by Gaston Leroux, opened in the West End in 1986 before making its Broadway debut in 1988.

The musical won numerous awards including the Olivier Award for Musical of the Year in 1986 and the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1988. It has since inspired the 2004 Joel Schumacher film adaptation starring Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Patrick Wilson and Minnie Driver.

This year, the 75th anniversary of Webber’s birth, the first Mandarin-language version of the show will open in Shanghai in May.



By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)
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