The Korea Herald


Performing art scene in hope of 2021

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Jan. 3, 2021 - 16:38

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Poster image of “Wicked” (S&Co) Poster image of “Wicked” (S&Co)

While the year of 2020 was a disastrous year for everyone, the performing arts scene hopes regain its footing this year.

Last year, musical productions were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, canceling or postponing shows due to the middle seat vacancy rule according to the authorities’ social distancing scheme.

On Dec. 30, the musical scene has launched an association of Korean musical production companies, consisting of major musical production agencies such as Seensee Company, Clip Service, EMK Musical Company and CJ ENM on Dec. 30.

The association asked the government to apply a middle seat vacancy rule for performing arts theaters instead of having to leave two-thirds of the total seats empty. It also asked for the government to support rental costs for private performing arts theaters.

Though the pandemic crisis has not been resolved, the performing arts scene hopes to recover in 2021 with hit musical shows.

Musical “Wicked” is one of the most anticipated shows to go onstage this year. Inspired by the famous story “The Wizard of the Oz,” it tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba, the wicked green witch of west, and Glinda, the good white witch.

The musical returns to stage for the first time in five years. It features 54 scene changes without a black out, a 12.4-meter-long dragon, flying monkeys and 350 costumes.

The show will open in February at the Blue Square Interpark Hall in central Seoul and move to Busan in May.

Poster image of “Last Empress” (Showon Company) Poster image of “Last Empress” (Showon Company)

Musical “Last Empress” which was to open on Jan. 6 at the Seoul Arts Center had to postpone its opening some two weeks due to the prolonged social distancing scheme.

The musical, an adaptation of a novel of the same name, follows the life of Empress Myeongseong from the 19th century who was assassinated by Japanese assassins during the Japanese colonial rule.

It will open on Jan. 19, featuring 25 newly arranged musical numbers. Influential new age pianist-composer Yang Bang-eon newly arranged the numbers, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the original Korean musical.

Big-name stage actors Kim So-hyun and Shin Young-sook are to feature in the show as Empress Myeongseong.

Seensee Company’s ”Chicago“ will open at Sindorim D Cube Art Center on March 30. The American musical set in Chicago in the jazz age, tells the stories of criminals and their crimes. The upcoming production will feature a 14-member big band on stage.

Musical “Beetlejuice,” based on the fantasy comedy film by Tim Burton, will have its Korean premiere in June at the Sejong Center. 

Scene from musical “Beetlejuice” (CJ ENM) Scene from musical “Beetlejuice” (CJ ENM)

The classical music scene hopes to feature soloists -- who have agreed to the two-week, self-quarantine rule -- instead of inviting large orchestras from abroad.

Cellist Mischa Maisky will go onstage in Seoul in May, Beethoven specialist Rudolf Buchbinder is to come to Seoul in September, American pianist Robert Levin in November, followed by pianists Eliso Virsaladze and Lang Lang in December.

Pianist Cho Seong-jin, one of the most celebrated classical music artists from Korea, is to take the stage in Seoul in April with German Baritone Matthias Goerne. The two have performed together on various occasions in recent years.

Pianist Paik Gun-woo, recognized for his devotion to Chopin and Beethoven, will hold a recital in March, celebrating the 65th anniversary since his debut.

By Im Eun-byel (