‘Robin Hood’ the musical strikes familiar chord

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‘Robin Hood’ the musical strikes familiar chord


“Robin Hood” featuring idol star Kyuhyun, center, as Prince Phillip runs through March 29 at the D-Cube Art Center in Sindorim, western Seoul. Provided by the organizer

The English folklore of heroic outlaw Robin Hood has been a favorite childhood story, especially for boys, as the witty swordsman takes from the rich and gives to the poor. The story has been widely presented in television, films and even musicals.

“Robin Hood,” a musical that premiered in Korea at the D-Cube Art Center in western Seoul on Jan. 23, seems like it’s a Korean production of a Broadway or a West End musical. However, according to the organizer, the musical is based on the German production of the same name that premiered in 2005 and has been reinterpreted.

“The Korean version of musical ‘Robin Hood’ is a show that I hope the ruling and the opposition representatives watch together,” says Yoo Joon-sang, who plays the lead role. He alternates with two other actors - Lee Gun-myung and Um Ki-jun. Yoo, who also is active on both the small and big screen, insisted that the story of the musical is “sadly similar to the current situation in Korean society.”

If our legislators watch this show together, “they may realize and feel what the public wants and what we are trying to say,” says Yoo. “Not being defeatist, but in a hopeful way.”

He never imagined he would shed tears while rehearsing for “Robin Hood,” because it is not a tragic musical, but Yoo says he and the other cast members “wept a lot.

“The story is about three friends’ commitment to change, to revolution,” says Yoo. “It has that force and gives you a lump in the throat.”

“I would say this is a musical of public sentiment,” says Wang Yong-bum, director of the musical. “I wasn’t trying to be political or criticize anybody or anything. It was just surprising to me how similar this story of 1,000 years ago is to our situation today.”

The musical deals with the issue of taxes, which has been a national hot potato recently.

“I think life is about timing,” says Lee Gun-myung, one of the three Robin Hoods. “The musical had already been written and the problem of taxes already included. Now it’s become a huge problem in Korea.”

Wang, who has produced hits like “The Three Musketeers” and “Jack the Ripper,” also talks about why he often casts idol stars as lead characters in his musicals.

“I feel sad they are still being refered to as idol stars,” he says. Kyuhyun of Super Junior and Yang Yo-seob of Beast have been cast in the role of Prince Phillip, along with actor Park Sung-hwan, in “Robin Hood.”

“If they are currently here as actors to perform on a stage for a musical, I believe they should be referred to as musical stars. I worked with Kyuhyun for five years and worked with Yo-seob on two musicals. I cast them because I believe they can be great musical actors who just happen to be idol stars. Some criticize it as being too commercial, but just watch them perform.”

The show will continue through March 29 at D-Cube Art Center in Sindorim-dong, western Seoul. Performances are 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekends and public holidays. Ticket prices range from 60,000 won ($55) to 130,000 won. For information, call (02) 764-7857.

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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