Steady sellers dominate year's stage calendar

The country's performance arts calendar in the new year may disappoint some fans. Production companies and concert organizers are cautious in their selection of shows with the general trend being to stick with works that have proven ticket-power.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of performances that you may want to mark on your calendar.

The line up of musicals, which enjoy great crowds here as unquestionably the most favored genre, is noticeably more conservative. They will be mostly steady sellers while more experimental homemade shows will be postponed.

Classical music concerts and dance performances by top-rated artists, most of which are booked two to three years ahead, will be staged as scheduled. But production companies are expected to focus increasingly on talented domestic artists.

Fans will see revivals of a host of hit musicals, including the vernacular production of the Broadway musical "Rent", a story about love, friendship and passion of poor aspiring artists in New York City. The show will be staged for the sixth time since 2000 at KEPCO Arts center in Seoul starting Jan. 8.

"Mamma Mia", the popularity of which has been revived by the recent movie version featuring Meryl Streep, also returns in July at the National Theater of Korea in Jangchung-dong, Seoul.

Mega-hit West End musical "The Phantom of the Opera" will also be shown here again in September. The Korean production, which is running for the fourth time, will be staged at Charlotte Theater in Jamsil-dong, Seoul.

Korea will also see premieres of two big musicals - "Legally blonde" and "High School Musical" - which have already proven their pulling power abroad.

The Korean musical versions of the 2000 movie "Legally Blonde", starring Reece Witherspoon, and Disney Channel's hit TV show "High School Musical", which made Zac Afron and Vanessa Hudgens huge stars, will both start showing in November.

Although details, including the cast, have yet to be unveiled, musical fans are already looking forward to it.

There will also be musical adaptations of hit novels introduced this year.

"My Sweet Seoul", the best-selling 2006 novel by Jeong I-hyeon which has also been made into a TV drama, will premiere in May at Daehangno.

Often referred to as the Korean version of "Sex and the City", the story features women and men in their early 30s who are living a critical period in their lives.

"The musical version will differ a lot from the novel or the drama, carrying out the show in a very unique way special to the genre", said a spokesperson for Eda Entertainment, the producer of the show.

Another musical, "Quiz Show", which adopted its story from the same-titled novel written by Kim Young-ha last year, will be staged in November at Seoul Arts Center. "Quiz Show" revolves around a young jobless man, whose only joy in life is online chatting.

Several world-renowned classical musicians are also due in Korea this year, starting with Spanish-Mexican tenor Placido Domingo. The tenor's concert with British Mezzo Soprano Katherine Jenkins will be on Jan. 13 at Seoul Olympic Park Gymnastics Arena.

Vienna and New York Philharmonic, two of the world's best philharmonic orchestras, will give their concerts in the country Sept. 9 and Oct. 12-13, respectively.

Vienna Philharmonic will be led by its Indian guest conductor Zubin Mehta, and feature world-famed Korean soprano Sumi Jo. New York Philharmonic's performance will be conducted by its musical director Alan Gilbert.

Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin will give his recital in April, while the joint concert of acclaimed Pianist Paik Kun-woo and three rising pianists - Kim Tae-hyung, Kim Jun-hee and Sunwook Kim - is scheduled for May. 10.

Meanwhile, dance fans will not want to miss the premiere of "In-I", which is performed and directed by French stage and film actress Juliette Binoche, and British choreographer Akram Khan. The stage will be at LG Arts Center in Seoul on March 19 and 20.

Other major dance performances include well-known Russian ballet troupe Boris Eifman Ballet's "Anna Karenina" which will be at LG Arts Center March 27-29, and "Onegin", one of South African choreographer John Cranko's representative works performed by Universal Ballet Sept. 11-20.

By Koh Young-aah