The Korea Herald


English version of Korean original musical ‘Marie Curie’ hits London’s West End

By Choi Si-young

Published : May 31, 2024 - 16:56

    • Link copied

Poster for “Marie Curie” (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) Poster for “Marie Curie” (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

The Korean original musical “Marie Curie” will hit London’s West End on Saturday, the first time a Korean production is being staged in English in one of the two biggest theater districts internationally, along with New York’s Broadway.

The musical will run at the 265-seat Charing Cross Theatre through July 28, with the Culture Ministry readying to promote the show through talks between the media and the cast on June 7 and joint concerts by the Korean and UK actors on June 10, the ministry said Friday. The cast includes 11 British actors.

Produced by LIVE Corp. President Kang Byung-won, the musical involves a British team led by director Sarah Meadows, music director Emma Fraser and choreographer Joanna Goodwin. Tom Ramsay and Ahreumbi Rew each oversaw the English book adaptation and literal translation.

The decision to take the musical exploring the Polish-born French physicist to the West End was made following its showcase at The Other Place in London in November last year. The showcase gauged the local audience’s take on the musical, produced by LIVE in 2020 with financial support from the government-run Arts Council Korea.

The body contributed 310 million won ($224,000), almost double what had cost the production company up until the launch.

The Korean production instantly earned recognition, sweeping five awards, including the top prize at the Korea Musical Awards in 2021, and the “Golden Watering Can” award at Poland’s Music Gardens Festival the following year according to votes from the audience and staff on the ground.

A Culture Ministry official said the two-month West End run is one sign that the Korean-produced original musical could turn out bigger than expected.

“Usually the norm is signing a contract for three months, renewable based on how the contracted period turns out commercially,” one of the officials with knowledge of the matter said of the optimism surrounding “Marie Curie.”

A successful run will get the show extended at the current venue or lead to a bigger theater able to hold up to around 1,500 to 2,000 people, the official added.

“The next stop is Broadway,” the official said, describing the New York theater district as the final destination for all “commercially viable” musicals.

The official noted the ministry is currently working on revising rules so that all musicals receiving government funding are made with the expectation that they might be showcased overseas.

Currently, the ministry distinguishes between musicals for the domestic market and those intended for the international market when signing off on funds.

The change could come as early as next year, according to the official.