DAs and penny loafers back in Seoul this week
The musical is the story of love and dreams of two high school student gangs ― the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies ― and became a well-known name in Korea because of a television commercial that featured one of the songs in the show, “Summer Nights.” A Korean production has also been a hit; there have been 500 performances since 2003, and it has done 6 billion won ($6.1 million) worth of business at the box office.
What’s the appeal of this somewhat dated show, first produced in the 1970s with songs from the 1950s?
“Everybody can relate to Sandy and Danny. That’s why it’s so popular,” said Hanna-Liina Vosa, who plays Sandy, an innocent girl who has just transferred to the same high school that her summer date, Danny, attends. Older people can look back with nostalgia on their youth, and teenagers can see echoes of their own triumphs and tribulations.
“But the musical will be funnier than the movie,” said Jamey Isenor, who plays the male lead, Danny. He was referring to the 1978 film version that starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and said that the movie was built around the star appeal of John Travolta. In the stage version, however, there is a more balanced ensemble of goofy high-school kids.
Vosa, a noted singer from Estonia, says she was popular in high school and played the lead in several school plays. “But I was a bit tougher than Sandy,” she added.
Isenor said that the role was challenging for him at first. “I was not popular, not cool, and a bit nerdy,” he laughed. “Being a popular leader is not something I could learn everyday.” And at 31, it’s not quite possible for him to be completely convincing in the role of a high school student. When asked what he thought of such criticism, he dismissed it. After two years in the role in performances in the United States and Canada, he said, experience trumps youth.
The group will also stage the show in Seongnam, a Seoul suburb, and in Daegu after the capital run. The last performance in Korea will be on April 23, after which the show will travel to Singapore and then on to other Asian cities.
by Park Sung-ha
"Grease" will be staged in the Chungmu Art Hall in central Seoul, beginning Wednesday until March 23.? Performances begin at 8 p.m. from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays and national holidays.? There is also a matinee at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Saturdays and on Feb. 24. The stage is dark on Mondays. Tickets cost 55,000, 77,000 and 99,000 won. For more information, call (02) 501-7888.? For tickets, call 1544-1555 or 1588-7890, or visit ticket.interpark.com or www.ticketlink.co.kr.