Quasimodo is back, ringing bell for Seoul

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Quasimodo is back, ringing bell for Seoul


The French musical “Notre Dame de Paris” is back by popular demand less than a year since its last show in Seoul.
Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, the performance attracted over 70,000 theater goers during 30 shows in Seoul in February and March last year. Its success was quite surprising because there were doubts whether a French musical could be a hit with Koreans, who tend to prefer productions from Broadway, or at least the West End. The language barrier, which is higher with French, was another concern. However, audiences were won over by its touching songs, spectacular stage sets, energetic dancing and lighting that fills the whole stage even during solo scenes.
Coming back to one city in less than a year with the same cast is unique, Nicolas Talar, the producer of the show, said at a welcome party held at the Plaza Hotel on Monday. All seven major actors, four substitute actors, dancers, directors and fans of the musical attended the party. “[The show] received some reaction from fans all over the world, but the reaction from Korea was so strong that the singers also wanted to come back,” Mr. Talar added. This time, “Notre Dame de Paris” will play 48 times in Seoul through Feb. 26.
“I’m really excited to be back here,” said Richard Charest, who performed in Seoul last year as Gringoire, the narrator. He first played that role in Seoul, making his time here more memorable. But more than that, the Korean fans went nuts, he recalled. “They visited my Web site, asked questions, sent emails, and we’ve kept in contact for a whole year.” He received 40 to 50 emails a day from Korean fans right after the show.
Even newcomers on the current tour have gotten a warm welcome. Cyril Niccolai, who will also play Gringoire, did not participate in the last tour. “But after the fans found out I was coming, they also emailed me. The love of the show is amazing here.”
What’s so attractive about this French musical? It consists of 54 numbers without dialogue, and the singers are typical neither of operas nor musicals. Matt Laurent, who plays Quasimodo, the hunchback who falls in love with the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, was originally a rock singer. “Being a rock singer helps bring deep sounds to Quasimodo,” said Laurent.
Asked how he interpreted Quasimodo, Laurent said, “I see him as a little guy who’s never been out and now falls in love for the first time.”
Every night on stage, the actor recalls his own sad memories of first love when he was 13 or 14. “When the girl I liked liked another boy, I felt so sad and cried a lot.”
The musical is in French, but Korean and English subtitles will be provided. (English subtitles are not available on the third floor.)

by Park Sung-ha

“Notre Dame de Paris” will play at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. weekdays; at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. No performance on Jan. 31 and on Mondays, except for Jan. 30. Tickets cost 50,000 won ($50) to 200,000 won. Call 1544-1555, or visit www.ndpk.co.kr
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