Although this year's local performing arts market revolved around musicals, critics say that 2006 was a success with growth recorded in market size as well as the fan base ranging from teens to middle-aged groups. On the back of continuing interest in the cultural sector, performing arts productions in the country are seeking variety and creativity throughout the year, proven by the lists of scheduled performances for 2007.
Hoping to cash in on the huge popularity of movies and TV dramas, a number of musical versions will be staged throughout the year.
The musical "Dae Jang Geum
" - a remake of a drama series about a royal chef-turned-physician - will hit the stage at the Opera House of Seoul Arts Center from May 26 to Jun. 16. Presented by PMC production, known as creator of "Nanta", a smash-hit non-verbal performance, the home-grown musical "Daejanggeum" will also visit Daegu in July and Sungnam Arts Center, Gyeonggi province, in August. "My Love, My Bride", which featured Choi Jin-sil
and Park Joong-hoon
as a newlywed couple in the 1980s movie, will be remade as a musical version and is scheduled to be staged at around the last quarter of the year.
Other smash-hit Korean movies including "Singles"
(Dongsoong Arts Center, Daehangro in July) and "Innocent Steps
" will also revisit audiences on the stage. "Innocent Steps
", a musical version of the movie featuring the country's biggest teen star Moon Geun-young
will hit the stage at Baekam Art Hall in Samsung-dong from March 27 to July 1.
The good news for musical addicts who have waited too long for the comeback of Korean heartthrob Cho Seung-woo
is that the star of "Jekyll and Hyde" is returning to the stage with the Broadway musical "Rent" on Jan. 6 at the Seensee Musical Theater in Daehangno, downtown Seoul. Jo plays Roger, a musician desperate to write one great song before AIDS kills him while his elder sister Seo-yeon, a musical actor, takes the role of a performance artist, Maureen. It is their first musical to perform together. Based on Puccini's "La Boheme", Cho's new musical "Rent" brings social stigmas such as homosexuality, drugs and AIDS to the mainstream and also celebrates the life, the chance to experience love and friendship.
"Mamma Mia", the best musical of 2006 as chosen by Korean online voters last year will greet musical fans at Sungnam Arts Center, from Jan. 20. The smash hit based on the songs of Abba features Korea's musical star Choi Jung-won-I
and Yi Tae-won as Donna and Lee Jung-mi as Sophie.
But foreign musicals are also getting in on the act here with disco dance, bell-bottomed trousers and Bee Gees music back on stage with the original production "Saturday Night Fever" this month. The West End musical performed by a cast from London will be staged from Jan. 12 through March 3 at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul and at the Opera House in Daegu on March 9-18.
French blockbuster musical "Romeo et Juliette" is also coming to town and will be staged at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul from Jan. 20 until Feb. 27. The blockbuster musical, which has drawn over 4 million viewers in 16 countries since 2001, is one of the three French-language musicals along with "Notre Dame de Paris" and "Les Dix Commandements".
Korean b-boy culture, a smash-hit genre that amazed both local and foreign audiences here, is expected to continue its popularity this year.
PMC's "B-boy Korea" is currently on at the Star Six Chongdong Art Hall featuring Nam Hyun-joon, a famous b-boy in town nicknamed "poppin Hyunjoon". The production company of non-verbal performance "Jump" will stage dance comedy "Picnic" featuring b-boying performances at the Chungmoo Arts Hall in May. SJ B-boys and B-boy Team Gambler, the two b-boying groups currently performing on a small theater in Daehangro with "A Ballerina Who Loved B-boy" will be preparing a new production.
Meanwhile, Korea's two major ballet troupes are set to present ballet "Chunhyang
", taking motives from the country's traditional folk tale about an everlasting love story between the daughter of a "gisaeng", or a female entertainer from the Joseon Dynasty, who falls in love with Mongryong, a man of noble blood. The Korea National Ballet Company will reproduce "L'Epreuve d'Amour (The Trials of the Love)", based on the story of "Chunhyang
" and choreographed by legendary Russian choreographer Michel Fokine (1880-1942). The European ballet with the story of Korean traditional folk tale was staged in a number of European countries in the early 20th century. Now recreated by the Korean ballet troupe, the new version of the ballet will hit the stage on Oct. 31 to Nov. 4th at SAC.
Universal Ballet Company will also present the second act of the ballet "Chunhyang
" at the newly built Aram Theater Ilsan City, Gyeonggi Province in May. The first act of the ballet was showcased at Deokyang Eoullim Theater in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province last year, after which the full production will be unveiled on May 11-13.
Chongdong Theater holds "Art Frontier Festival" throughout the year, featuring young promising artists including Kim Joo-won and b-boy group "Expression" in March and Lee Jung-yoon of the National Dance Company of Korea and Choi Yoon-suk, modern choreographer in September.
A number of foreign dance troupes are also set to hold performances in Seoul. Ballet dancers currently performing with major dance troupes across the world will be in Seoul for performances on Jan. 25-26 at the Seoul Arts Center. The 2007 World Ballet Star Festival In Seoul will feature 12 internationally acclaimed dancers, including Irina Dvorovenko of the American Ballet Theater, Roberta Marquez of the Royal Ballet in England, Igor Zelensky of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Christophe Duquenne of the Paris Opera Ballet. Yoo Ji-yeon, a Korean ballerina currently performing with the Kirov Ballet, will also participate in the two-day festival.
LG Arts Center in southern Seoul invites audiences to experience creative choreographic pieces including "Sacred Monsters" performed by Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan, the two world-star dancers, "Alas (Wings)" by Nacho Duato and Tomaz Pandur with Compania Nacional de Danza, National Dance Company of Spain.
By Cho Chung-un