Revue show reveals topless surpriseFor the 42nd year, the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel is continuing its tradition of bringing lively revue shows to the stage in Seoul. This year’s show ― one that surpasses previous shows in both cost and size ―is a traditional revue titled “Odyssey” by London-based Danze Fantasy Production. It first opened in the early ’90s in Australia, but has been updated for Korea.
“Over the years, the Korean audience has become more sophisticated,” said Ben Russell, the co-director, who came to Korea nearly a month ago to prepare for the production. “So it presents a greater challenge, and we have to put in a lot more. We wanted to make it different.”
The show consists of two parts, a 40-minute traditional Korean dance and the 60-minute “Odyssey.”
On its opening night July 1, the 750-seat Kayagum Theatre was packed with Japanese and Chinese tourists, as well as Koreans, enjoying a four-course dinner served throughout the show.
The show’s simple story line starts in the 14th century during the age of exploration when sailors journeyed through Europe and Africa. “The show’s elements go back to our roots to the traditional big style,” Mr. Russell said.
He promised it would be “a feast for the eyes.” And what a feast it was ― for both eyes and ears. The musical score, directed by Allan Rogers who has worked with U2 and Elton John, encompasses all genres, from hip hop to theater along with quick scene changes. The main vocalist, Diane O’Sullivan, who sings the majority of the “Odyssey” music, has a powerful voice. Ms. O’Sullivan performed in the Lido show, the equivalent of Las Vegas hotel shows in Paris and various West End musicals.
The show, which cost 5 billion won ($5 million), is comprised of five acts with two special circus performances in between.
The show starts with a young crew preparing to sail off in a life-size clipper, revolving in the center of the stage. A drove of lively maidens in blonde ringlets and short candy-pink petticoats pour onto the stage, pairing up with the sailors and dancing to Mr. Rogers’ original score for “Odyssey” titled, “Strip on the Ship.”
In the middle of lively dancing, the sailors joyfully ripped their partners’ tops off, revealing ―nothing. Over 70 percent of the past shows had been revue shows featuring topless European performers. According to the director, Lindy Russell, “topless” was requested by the hotel management.
The stage is constantly filled with at least 10 out of the 33 members of the cast at any given time. In the subsequent journeys to Morocco, Spain, Rome, and Africa, each scene is marked by distinctively different exotic locales, choreography and costumes.
In faux Morocco, sexy belly dancers in gold sequined midriffs and matching bottoms, seduce sailors. The captain meets a beautiful Moroccan princess and asks for her hand in marriage. The captain, played by Patrick Todd Arnold, previously performed in Lido shows.
One of the destinations, Rome, is where the crew meets Emperor Nero. There is a seductive bathtub scene with dancers in towels and thongs. The next scenes are exciting, as the fast-paced music adds adrenaline and leads into a gladiator sword fight followed by a thunderstorm.
The first part of the circus features a four-person group from Nanjing in China, juggling tops and ropes and drawing a great response from young children in the audience.
The two-person trapeze act from Russia, during the second recess, was done from a swinging bar suspended over the audience. Because it was done without a safety net, the act kept the audience on the edge of their seats, and drew a great round of applause and shouts.
“Trapeze was the best part of the show,” commented Kim Dong-sung, one of the members of the audience.
The finale, or the final destination in East Africa, was most memorable. Led by Ms. O’Sullivan, resplendent in a sparkling gold dress along with beautiful bikini-clad dancers who carried feather headdresses that weigh up to 5 kilograms (11 pounds), celebrated the completion of the journey with a remake of Bryan Adam’s “Here I am.”
“The main goal for us is to make the audience feel that they got their money’s worth,” Mr. Russell said. “We want to have the audience get totally involved in the show and have them, at least during that hour, escape from reality.”
Is “Odyssey” fit for an entire family night out? That depends on how you judge the gravity of a few topless dancing scene. But the show is great fun for those looking to experience something different in Korea.
by Kim Ji-hyun
“Odyssey” will run daily until through June 25, 2006, except for Wednesdays. In December, there will be daily performances. The Kayagum Theatre is located in the basement in the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill in Gwangjin-gu. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for the first show; 7:30 p.m. for the second show. The ticket for the “wine show” costs 60,000 won (a glass of wine is included). A dinner show costs 85,000 won, and the “supreme” dinner show is 99,000 won. For reservations or more information, call (02) 455-5000.