Epic of Christ, ‘The Promise,’ arrives in Seoul

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Epic of Christ, ‘The Promise,’ arrives in Seoul

For 15 years, “The Promise” has been quietly garnering rave reviews. But it is only now that the epic musical, based on the life of Christ, has arrived in Korea.
Coming just after Easter, and riding on the success of Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Promise” opened yesterday at Jamsil Olympic Stadium for a five-day run.
The musical takes a considerably gentler approach than “The Passion.” The organizers were trying to create an accessible Jesus. Beginning with the birth of Christ, the musical depicts the miracles he wrought, the temptations of Satan, Jesus’s ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, his death and resurrection. The two-hour musical is divided into two acts with 24 scenes.
It may not be as well known as a musical like “Phantom of the Opera” or an opera like “Aida,” but with a cast of 1,750 people and an investment of 12 billion won ($10.4 million), “The Promise” promises to be a blockbuster event.
“Phantom” in Korea had a production cost of 11.8 million won; “Aida,” the staging of which also included animals, cost 8 billion won. Of the “Promise” cast, 250 actors hail from the United States, and are supported by a local cast of 1,500 choir singers. More than 55 live animals are used on stage.
Taking the roles of Jesus and Peter are Randy Brooks and Allen Asbury, who have played the parts more than 3,000 times each. Brooks is also the associate producer. The director, Ray Marchant, was formerly with the Disney corporation.
The musical began in Glen Rose, Texas, as a passion play led by 10 actors. It is now a five-time winner of the Dove Awards, the gospel equivalent of the Grammys, and one of the longest-running Christian musicals in the United States.
In Texas, performances are held in an open-air amphitheater every weekend from June to October. The musical has actually put Glen Rose on the map. The town, which has fewer than 2,500 residents, lists the epic musical drama as one of the city’s attractions on its Web site (www.glenrosetexas.net/attractions.html), right after the Dinosaur Valley State Park and right before the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

by Joe Yong-hee

Tickets are 100,000 to 150,000 won. For more information, visit the Web site at www. Promise2004.co.kr.
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