The Korea Herald


French musical 'Holidays' featuring Madonna's hits kicks off Daegu musical fest

By Park Ga-young

Published : June 23, 2024 - 15:27

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From left: Bae Sung-hyuck, executive director of the Daegu International Musical Festival, From left: Bae Sung-hyuck, executive director of the Daegu International Musical Festival, "Holidays" director Nathan Guichet and four cast members, Juliette Behar, Fanny Delaigue, Marlene Schaff and Harmony Dibongue-levy, participate in a press conference held at Daegu Opera House in Daegue on Friday. (DIMF)

DAGEU - The Daegu International Musical Festival opened its 18th edition Friday, with the Korean premiere of “Holidays,” a French jukebox musical based on Madonna's hit songs, at Daegu Opera House.

“We invited ‘Holidays’ as the opening performance because Madonna is truly a legendary pop star and the musical based on her music would resonate deeply with Korean audience,” Bae Sung-hyuck, executive director of the DIMF, told reporters during a press conference on Friday. “In addition, Korea is perhaps the only country outside France that loves French musicals the most,” he added, citing examples of “Notre de Dame de Paris” and “Les Miserables.”

Produced by French stage director Nathan Guichet, who said he is a big fan of the pop icon, “Holidays” premiered in France in September 2023.

While the original production was in French, their tour to Korea was performed in English, with two new English-speaking cast members joining the production. It’s a move partly in consideration of international audiences who are familiar with the music, Guichet said.

A scene from A scene from "Holidays" (DIMF)

The production, originally for a small theater with four cast members, has also been expanded for the Daegu performance. The original production, for example, shows male characters through videos; the version in Daegu brings those characters onto the stage. Seven dancers have been added, infusing energy and dynamism to the performance.

The two-hour musical offers a total of 20 hit songs by Madonna, including “Vogue,” “Like a Virgin,” “Take a Bow” with original lyrics intact, telling a story of four childhood friends -- Louise, Veronica, Suzzane and Nikki -- reuniting after 14 years in a small French village where they used to spend vacations together and shared their passion for Madonna.

The opening ceremony of DIMF, along with the opening performance of “Holidays,” was originally scheduled to take place at Kolon Outdoor Music Hall in front of more than 20,000 spectators, but heavy rain on Friday forced it to be moved to Daegu Arts Center last minute. “Holidays" was staged three times through Sunday.

During the 15-day festival running until July 8, Daegu will be a vibrant musical hub, showcasing a total of 19 musicals from six countries at venues including Daegu Opera House, Kolon Outdoors Music Hall, Suseong Artpia and Daeduk Cultural Center.

The festival will wrap up July 8 with the DIMF Awards, celebrating the best performances presented in the festival.

Hosted by the city of Daegu, the annual event was established in 2006 to promote the city as a musical hub of Asia.