The Phantom of the Opera is here

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The Phantom of the Opera is here

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Kim So-hyeon (Christine) and Hong Gwang-ho (Raoul) in a scene from “Phantom of the Opera.” Provided by the organizer

Some major musicals have graced Korean stages this year - both original productions of Broadway hits and licensed versions with all-Korean casts - giving theatergoers plenty of reasons to sing.

“Jekyll and Hyde” which wrapped up its Seoul shows last week, and “Rent,” which closed on Sunday, were two original musical productions that landed here with great success. Both shows won high praise from critics and the public alike.

Licensed versions of “42nd Street,” presented from July to August, and the Korean rendition of “Notre Dame de Paris,” which played in August, were also popular.

Now, the Korean production of the longest-running musical on Broadway, “The Phantom of the Opera,” opens in theaters in Korea today. The first licensed production of Phantom in Korea was staged in 2001. The seven-month run drew 240,000 people, the highest attendance figures for any show in Korea, even today. It even beat “Aida” and “The Lion King,” which had the next highest attendance figures.

In 2005, the original production came to Korea as part of a world tour, and 200,000 people flocked to see it.

Despite being one of the most sought-after musicals worldwide, Phantom is a hard musical to produce mainly because of the costly set. It costs more than 20 billion won ($16 million), organizers say.

The Korean rendition of Phantom will be given a 10-month run, with organizers hoping to break the record and draw in more than 300,000 people. The cast includes actors from the 2001 production as well as some new faces.

“There are some people who look tough, and even evil, on the outside, but are fragile and as breakable as glass on the inside. Phantom is like that,” said Yun Yeong-seok, who will be playing the title role. Yun also played the role in 2001.

Yun will alternate in the role with Phantom newcomer Yang Jun-mo. “Phantom is a dream-like piece for musical actors. Going to a Phantom audition is like my duty as a musical actor,” Yang said.

Based on the French novel “Le Fantome de l’Opera” by Gaston Leroux, the musical is about a beautiful soprano, Christine Daae, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius.

The upcoming production will be presented at the Charlotte Theater in Jamsil, which organizers say has the Victorian-era feel of Her Majesty’s Theater in London, where the musical is still being staged.

According to a survey of musical audiences conducted by the organizer last year, 90 percent of those polled said they would see Phantom if it were presented here. In 10 months, we’ll see if these survey results are reflected in the ticket sales.

The Phantom of the Opera starts today and runs until Aug. 8, 2010. Performances will be presented at 8 p.m. on weekdays, at 3 and 8 p.m. on Saturdays and at 2 and 7 p.m. on Sundays at the Charlotte Theater in Jamsil, Seoul. Tickets are priced between 40,000 won and 140,000 won. For more information, call the organizer at (02) 501-7888.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]
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