A murder mystery musical made specifically for online
With the coronavirus lingering and health experts saying that people should get used to social distancing over the next one to two years, the hard-hit performing arts industry has been trying everything it can to endure and survive.
Some theaters have adopted the new seating plan of leaving every other seat empty, while others are taking their performances online, struggling to make sure the quality is at an agreeable standard so that they can charge for tickets.
But according to industry insiders, such measures are temporary and the organizations that have managed to survive until now are barely making their ends meet with support from the government.
"We were not ready to create online content, and then the pandemic hit," said an industry insider who wished to remain anonymous. "The government did give us budget to create online content, but it was peanuts. To create quality online content to film our existing repertoire, it requires great investment, which is impossible at this moment when most organizations are struggling financially."
So what about creating a new repertoire for online only that can be performed during such times?
This is what one of Korea's major musical production companies, EMK Musical, had been agonizing over, when it came across a musical titled "A Killer Party: A Murder Mystery Musical."
With music written by Jason Howland, lyrics by Nathan Tysen and based on book by Rachel Axler and Kait Kerrigan, this digital, remotely performed musical was created this year during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
It was a "eureka" moment, and EMK decided to produce the Korean version of this experimental musical that adhered to public safety guidelines.
According to the musical company, the show adopts a bold new way of producing theater, "which is not a mere cinematic adaptation of an existing musical, but doesn't inhibit either the production team or the audience with a time or place."
To shoot "A Killer Party: A Murder Mystery Musical," all actors rehearsed via zoom and filmed their scenes at their own homes to minimize contact during the pandemic.
"Excluding a few inevitable scenes where the filming staff had to shoot at specific locations, all the scenes were filmed by the actors in their own homes," said an official from EMK. "This was possible because the story was written like that. We believe this can be a turning point for diversification of the musical industry in Korea."
The musical is a comedy-mystery drama that attempts to solve a murder case that took place during a party held at a luxury villa. The detective makes the suspects at the party self-isolate for interviews in separate rooms of the villa.
Veteran musical actors have been cast in this experimental musical, including Yang Joon-mo, Shin Young-sook, Ali, Kim Jong-gu, Lisa, Enock and Kim So-hyang among others.
The musical will be available to purchase on demand at a new cable channel Sandbox+ over the course of three days from Nov. 20 to 22 as it is in nine short episodes. It will then be available via various online platforms.
BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [firstname.lastname@example.org]