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[PREVIEW] Musical "Monte Cristo"

2010/04/22 | 2284 views |  | Permalink | Source

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Cast and crew of musical "Monte Cristo" pose during a photo session of a press conference on April 21, 2010. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

Musical "Monte Cristo"

Cast Ryu Jung-hanUhm Ki-joonSin Seong-rok (role of Edmond/Monte Cristo), Ok Joo-hyunCha Ji-yeon (role of Mercedes), Choi Min-cheolㆍCho Hwee (role of Mondego), Jang Dae-woong (role of prosecutor Villefort), Jo Won-heeㆍLee Yong-geun (role of priest Faria), Kim Seung-daeㆍJeon Dong-suck (role of Albert)
In one line Kind-hearted sailor Edmond, who knew about nothing else but the sea, is born as a new man who seeks revenge after a friend and prosecutor who get him jailed for 14 years.
Run April 21 to June 13, 2010 at the Universal Arts Center

Edmond (played by Ryu Jung-hanUhm Ki-joonSin Seong-rok) was a man of the sea who was both passionate and trusted enough to become the captain of a ship in his twenties. He also got engaged to his lover Mercedes (Ok Joo-hyunCha Ji-yeon). But the happiest moment of his life is ruined when he loses his lover to close friend Mondego (Choi Min-cheolㆍCho Hwee) and his position of captain to Danglars (Jang Dae-woong). He is also jailed for 14 years by royal prosecutor Villefort who, in an attempt to protect his political aspirations, wrongly accuses him of a crime he did not commit. That is when Italian priest and sage Faria (Jo Won-heeLee Yong-geun) appears and helps Edmond become the Count of Monte Cristo. The musical, based on French novelist Alexandre Dumas' original book "The Count of Monte Cristo" released in 1845, made its world premiere in March 2009 and handed its first overseas license to Korea.

Anticipation Quotient 10
ㆍIf you are curious to know what a musical for large theater is supposed to be like: 7
ㆍIf you are looking forward to seeing an elaboratly laid out revenge play: 4

Cast of musical "Monte Cristo" act out scenes during a press call held at the Universal Arts Center in Seoul, South Korea on April 21, 2010. [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

The musical does not start simply with the raise of its curtains -- a screen shows rough waves breaking on the sea while playing solemn music in the background, when Edmond's profile appears, followed by the show's title "Monte Cristo". It is like the beginning to a movie. The limits a stage's size usually has to a production is overcome with its large set and adequate uses of video. Frank Wildhorn's music, which added an element of beauty to thriller genre musical "Jekyll and Hyde" with numbers "This is the moment" and "Once upon a dream", this time attempts to capture both the majestic and delicate elements to "Monte Cristo" with his music. The musical is satisfactory overall when it comes to its scale and sophisticated music which is usually only seen in big theaters and attention has been paid to the casting, down to the smallest roles, despite it being its premiere in Korea. But the loosely structured storyline and at times excessively cooked up scenes prove to be disappointments.

"Monte Cristo" dedicates most of its time to the process of how Edmond transforms into Monte Cristo rather than his revenge. He is born as a new man by using wealth and power which he gained after mastering martial arts and the manners of the aristocrats while in prison, risking his life to escape from his cell, and working with smugglers. But compared to the intense process, the revenge he takes on Mondego, Danglars and Villefort are too weak in the eyes of 21st century viewers. The show is also hasty in forgiving, even given that producer Robert Johanson said the main theme is "forgiveness and repentance rather than revenge". That is why "Monte Cristo" can be compared to the Times New Roman font -- it is the most basic font in your computer yet can be seem outdated when not used properly. The story is a 160-year-old classic but it could use a more modern interpretation than the fragmentary perspective that 'the evil is punished and good is rewarded'. Just like how "Man of La Mancha", based on over 400-year-old "Don Quixote" continues to asks questions about the present. That is what classics are about. Musical "Monte Cristo" continues its run till June 13.

Reporter : Jang Kyung-Jin three@
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk eleven@
Editor : Jessica Kim jesskim@
<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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