Pick of the crop: 3 top shows for young viewers

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Pick of the crop: 3 top shows for young viewers

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With musicals riding a wave of popularity in Korea, children’s shows are also getting in on the act. This month, when it seems the entire nation is on vacation, is perhaps the best time to take the kids to a show ― in Seoul alone, there are more than 20 children’s musicals being staged. The JoongAng Ilbo’s theater writer watched 10 children’s musicals; the following are his top three picks:

“Kobang Kobang”
This production has something for both adults and children. The adult actors play games on stage that the audience might have played when they were young. It’s more of a play with music than a musical show, but the heavily percussive music is memorable.
The Korean fairytale, “Brother and Sister Become the Sun and the Moon,” is also performed as a play-within-a-play. One interesting part of this show is the way the performers use cloth as a prop, turning it into water, a backdrop and a mountain. The actors’ a cappella songs and excellent performances are also impressive. It’s appropriate for children aged 4 to 8.
The show runs at Jayu Theater in the Seoul Arts Center, southern Seoul, through Aug. 20. Performances start at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. No performances on Monday. Tickets cost 18,000 won ($19) to 22,000 won. Members of Sadari Theater and Seoul Arts Center get a 20-percent discount. For more information, call (02) 580-1300.

“The Alchemist in Search of the Pharoah’s Treasure”
Paulo Coelho’s famous novel “The Alchemist” has been turned into a children’s musical.
The show is advertised as a “super adventure musical,” and indeed, the stage is packed and dazzling. The sets ― which include waves and oases ― easily catch the audience’s eyes. It is easy to understand how the producers could have spent 500 million won making this show.
The actors are not adults acting like children ― they are children, sixth- to ninth-graders, which helps kids in the audience empathize with the characters. The one disappointment is that all the songs are lip-synched. This show is appropriate for 7- to 10-year-olds.
The musical is performed at the Seoul KyoYuk MunHwa HoeKwan Theater, southern Seoul, through Aug. 27. There is a shuttle bus that goes from Yangjae subway station, line No. 3, to the theater. The show starts at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. from Tuesdays to Fridays, and Sundays, while on Saturdays it begins at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. No shows on Mondays. Tickets cost 30,000 won to 60,000 won. Viewers who donate goods for charity get a 50 percent discount. For more information, call (02) 764-8760.

“My Half”
“My Half” is based on a Korean fairytale that resembles “Beauty and the Beast.” The musical’s attraction is its combination of Korean traditional performance with Korean classical music. One side of the protagonist’s body is disabled and he is mocked for his appearance. The story emphasizes that only love can help a person overcome all obstacles.
Although the story might be difficult for children to understand, “My Half” provides a look at the beauty of Korean classical music. The melodies of the daegeum (a large bamboo flute), haegeum (a Korean fiddle) and gayageum (a twelve-stringed Korean harp) merge harmoniously, and the beating of gongs and janggu (Korean drums) is exciting. The simple but authentic sets provide a feast for the eyes.
“My Half” was performed in the Avignon Festival Off and the Hitachi International Street Performance Festival last year. It is appropriate for children aged 7 to 10 years.
It runs at Mary Hall at Sogang University through Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Tuesdays to Thursdays, weekends and holidays, and at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Fridays. No shows on Mondays. Tickets cost 10,000 won to 25,000 won. On Fridays, there is a 50-percent discount for fathers. For more information, call (02) 3673-0156.


by Choi Min-woo
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