Musical ‘The Mission’ fails to meet audience expectations

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Musical ‘The Mission’ fails to meet audience expectations

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The musical “The Mission,” will be performed until Feb. 26 at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Provided by Sang Sang Musical Company

Expectations were so high before the Korean-Italian reproduction of the 1986 Oscar-winning film “The Mission” hit the stage at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts last Tuesday, that it was one of the hardest tickets to get in the city.

But if audience reviews posted on the “The Mission” Web site are any indication, the musical has been a flop.

Almost immediately after the curtain fell on Feb. 2, ticket-holders were so dissatisfied with the performance that they flooded the musical’s and ticket agency Interpark’s Web sites with pointed complaints.

Interpark’s review page and the official Web site’s message board were taken offline, after they said there were too many posts criticizing certain religions.

It is the first time this has ever happened in Korean theater.

The story unfolds in 18th century South America. It tells the story of two missionaries doing volunteer work and combines religion, race, theology and love.

Korean production company Sang Sang Musical Company acquired the rights to remake the movie into a musical.

The plan is for the show to complete its Korean run on Feb. 26 and then go on a European tour in 2012 before hitting Broadway the year after.

“This type of production has never been never tried in Korea,” Lee Tae-gon, CEO of Sang Sang Musical Company, said in a press release. “I know people have doubts in this new challenge, but it has been reproduced and now I’m excited to show the audience this musical, which is full of eye-catching scenes.”

Italian musical producer FabMax Company S.r.l. was responsible for production, while the Korean company was responsible for most of the investment.

The movie won acclaim 25 years ago for the acting of Robert De Niro and music by Ennio Morricone.

Morricone is back participating in the theatrical production.

“The movie is one of my best works and now I am totally engaged in the musical. I’m going to put just as much energy into the musical,” said Morricone in a press release.

He was scheduled to appear at a press conference last Monday at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, but his trip to Seoul was delayed due to health issues.

Morricone has composed six new songs for his first musical and his son, Andrea, is playing a prominent role as music director.

“It’s a great challenge for me to transform the work of my dad in film into the musical theater,” said Andrea at the press conference before the premier. The audience, however, reported that they were greatly disappointed about the lack of an orchestra. Instead, prerecorded music blared through the theater.

The production group did try to reproduce the scenic views of South America by installing a 7-meter (23-foot) waterfall on stage.

The cast consists of Italians speaking in English. For Korean audiences, subtitles are provided.

The performance had originally been scheduled to debut last June - but was canceled only two weeks before the opening.

“The Mission” runs through Feb. 26 at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts’ Grand Theater.

Performances are at 8 p.m. on weekdays, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. There are no performances on Mondays.

Tickets range from 60,000 won ($53) to 200,000 won.

Children under the age of 7 will not be admitted. To get to the theater, go to Gwanghwamun Station, line No. 5, exit 1 or 8.

For more information, call (02) 517-3353, or visit www.sejongpac.co.kr.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr ]


Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

[최민우 기자의 까칠한 무대] 악플 꺼려 게시판 막은 뮤지컬 ‘미션’

일 서울 세종문화회관에서 개막한 뮤지컬 ‘미션’. 예매사이트 ‘인터파크’에서 단독 판매 중이다. VIP석 20만원, R석 15만원 등 기존 대형 뮤지컬보다 30% 이상 비싸다. 아무리 보고 싶더라도 이 정도 가격이면 주저하게 된다. 이럴 때 참고하는 게 이미 본 사람들의 평가다. 인터파크엔 작품마다 ‘공연게시판’이라는 관객 리뷰 코너가 있다. 상당수 관객이 이 게시판을 관람 여부의 잣대로 활용한다. 제작사로서 예민해질 수밖에 없다.

하지만 7일 현재 뮤지컬 ‘미션’의 인터파크 공연게시판은 닫혀있다. 글을 남길 수도, 이미 올려진 글을 볼 수도 없다. ‘공연게시판 폐쇄’는 전례가 거의 없는 극단적인 조치다. “종교적인 논쟁과 수십 건의 중복 게재로 잠정 폐쇄한다”라는 고지가 떠 있다.

제작사와 인터파크 측에 문의하니 “5일 오후 닫았다. 2명의 네티즌이 지나치게 악의적인 글을 너무 많이 올렸고, 그 와중에 특정 종교를 비방하는 내용도 포함돼 있어 불가피하게 게시판을 잠정 폐쇄했다”고 밝혔다. 과연 이런 이유뿐일까.

‘미션’은 개막 직전 판매 1위를 기록했다. 원작이 된 동명 영화에 대한 향수, ‘넬라 판타지아’로 새삼 환기된 엔니오 모리코네의 음악, 120억여 원을 들여 만든 이탈리아 뮤지컬의 세계 초연 등이 관심을 증폭시켰다. 하지만 막이 오르자 ‘역대 최악의 공연’ 투의 혹평이 쏟아졌다. 인터파크 관람평 10개 중 9개가 비판 일색이었다. “환불해 달라”는 항의도 폭주했다. 자연히 판매량도 하향 곡선을 그렸다. …

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