By Chung Ah-young
French musicals have a strong fan base here for their unique qualities ― separate dancing and singing performances with less dialogue and more songs distinguish them from Broadway and West End musicals.
Local musical buffs will be able to quench their thirst for the musicals that have swept the local musical scene a couple of years ago.
Three iconic French musicals ― "Notre Dame de Paris", "Romeo et Juliette" and "Don Juan" ― are returning to fans this year.
"Romeo et Juliette", which premiered in Korea in 2007, will be on stage from July 29 to Feb. 27 at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
This year's show will present flamboyant performance in which the chorus usually dances as a group while actors sing the musical scores, such as hit numbers "Aimer" and "Les Rois du Monde".
Costumes marked by the symbolic colors of red and blue represent the conflicts of the two families ― the Montagues and the Capulets. The musical offers new "goddess of death" and poet characters.
The main actors ― Damien Sargue as Romeo, Joy Esther as Juliette and Cyril Niccolai as Benvolio ― performed in Seoul in 2007 and will join the upcoming performance.
Another extravagant piece, "Don Juan", will be adapted for Korea and hit the stage from Feb. 6 at Seongnam Arts Center.
Based on the story of a legendary fictional libertine with irresistible charm, it was first staged here in 2006 and enthralled Korean audiences.
, Kim Da-hyeon
and Kang Tae-eul will alternate playing the title role.
The musical is renowned for its ravishing flamenco dance performances, tinged with strong Latin music.
The NDPK, a local musical production company, will use a 40-centimeter thick wooden round stage to amplify tapping sounds as they dance flamenco.
The Spanish flamenco dancers and orchestra who performed in 2006 will also cooperate with the Korean actors.
"Notre Dame de Paris", the musical based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, using the backdrop of the 15th century cathedral of Notre Dame, is now back on stage.
The Korean rendition, starring Choi Sung-hee (better known as Bada
), received favorable reviews in 2007 on account of her successful transformation from being a singer to an actress for the role of Esmeralda, a gypsy woman who lives in front of the cathedral of Notre Dame with other gypsies.
It was the first adaptation in Asia after being translated into English, Italian, Russian and Spanish. With lyrics by Luc Plamondon and music composed by Richard Cocciante, the show is renowned for its beautiful and heartbreaking musical numbers, which are performed without dialogue. The choreography spans various dance styles from ballet, contemporary dance and gymnastics to breakdancing.
The musical kicks off this year's tour from Busan Citizen's Hall from Jan. 9 to 18, Daegu Opera House from Feb. 6 to March 1, Ulsan Arts Center from March 27 to April 1, Jeonju Sori Arts Center from April 10 to 12, Daejeon Culture and Arts Center from June 4 to 7 and will land in Seoul in August to perform at the Seongnam Arts Center in Gyeonggi Province in September.
The French musicals have drawn a large local audience, as they can be adapted to a certain degree in accordance with local needs instead of following set rules as do West End and Broadway musicals.
Also, as French musicals target smaller and younger audiences than other musicals, which aim for a larger general audience, they feature more dynamic and rhythmic music from musicians who work in various genres, while Broadway and West End musicals use traditional orchestras.