[ON STAGE]For Woody Allen fans, a bouquet

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[ON STAGE]For Woody Allen fans, a bouquet

Most people are wise to the fact that Valentine's Day has been hijacked by chocolate makers and jewelry shops. Korea's merchants caught on fast that the quickest way to get rich is to tap the couple's market; anything that smacks of romance sells well. And Daehangno, the mecca of Korean stage theater, is also in on the act.

A pair of romantic productions opened on Valentine's Day in Daehangno: Mozart's opera "Marriage of Figaro" at the Hakjeon Blue Theater and the comedy "Everyone Says I Love You," based on Woody Allen's 1996 big-screen musical. The comedy will run just past March 14, or White Day. In Korea, Valentine's Day is a one-way street: The women treat the men. On White day, men are assigned the candy-giving duties. But actually, most ordinary Koreans don't care much about Valentine's Day.

In contrast to Allen's film, which depicts a middle- class family from Manhattan's Upper East Side, the local musical portrays a modest Korean-American extended family living in New York. The many dynamic characters from different generations make for an array of angles from which to view the subject of love.

Hanna (played in the film by Drew Barrymore as Skylar), the family's eldest daughter, is engaged to Holden, but falls in love with Jackal (characters' names are in English and Korean), a tough but charming parolee who got out of prison with the help of Hanna's mother, Mary. Meanwhile, Hanna's two erratic sisters learn wisdom from their eccentric grandfather.

Mary, an assertive social worker who divorced her ex-husband Jung-yeol (Woody Allen in the film), has a fling with a dull Korean-American lawyer. Cella, a longtime family friend, returns from India after fully absorbing the Kama Sutra to unite with her old lover. Interspersed with the plot lines, the play focuses on the love parents provide when their children stumble on the path of love.

The musical faithfully follows the story line of the film, though some characters are modified. The Mary in the movie is depicted as a pretentious dilettante who seeks the media spotlight. In the play, she is an innocent, altruistic social worker.

As a big plus, the production presents talented actors who can actually sing and dance, unlike many Korean musicals that count on celebrities to sell tickets, or put on bland imitations of Broadway works. For information, call 02-575-3003.

by Park Soo-mee

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