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Happy Marriage of Musicals, Cinema?

2007/03/06 Source

By Chung Ah-young
Staff Reporter

Are musicals and cinema friends or foes? It may all depend on how you look at it.

The symbiotic relationship between the two genres has been already tested between Broadway and Hollywood.

Broadway and the West End have successfully produced musicals such as "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King" in 1990, based on Disney movies.

The Korean musical industry is now also looking to translate hit films into musicals, making the best use of the boom in the local musical scene.

"Movical", a combination word consisting of "movie and musical", is emerging as a Korean slang buzzword on the local musical scene.

The interaction between the two industries dates back to a local film, "Waikiki Brothers", (2001) directed by Yim Soon-rye, which was adapted for the stage in 2004.

This year, about five or six musicals based on films will be staged.

"Innoscent Steps", a film starring actress Moon Geun-young and actor Park Gun-hyung in 2005, will go to the stage on March 29-July 1. It dealt with dance sports, where a couple performs competitively in flamboyant modern and Latin dances.

It is the combination of the dance and sports, which is key to the musical factors, based on the storyline of the film.

Singer-turned-actress Eugene (Eugene) who was a member of girl group SES will play Moon's role in the musical version.

The musical version of "Singles" is planning to cast Kim Yoon-ah of the band Jaurim, or singer and actress Uhm Jung-hwa who starred in the film in the main role, but the decision is yet to be made.

"Singles" based on Kamata Toshio's novel, titled "Christmas at Twenty-Nine", will be reborn as a light-hearted musical showing four single characters in their late 20s, pursuing their careers and at the same time their loves.

"Singles" will be presented at Dongsoong Hall of the Dongsoong Art Center from June 8- July 29.

Lee Sun-young, a senior official of PMC Production, which is also considering adapting two musicals from films, said that it is a kind of a trend in Broadway and the West End.

"More and more producers are turning their eyes to major hit films to diversify the contents and secure popularity as local original musicals are gaining popularity", Lee said.

The film "The General's Son" (1990) by veteran director Im Kwon-taek will be revived as a musical.

The plot is based on the real life of the late Korean independence activist and fighter Kim Du-han, beginning with his early years in Chongno area in central Seoul, which many saw as being the symbolic heart of the country during the Japanese colonial period. The film attracted more than one million people when it was shown, a remarkable feat at that time.

"The major character Kim Du-han who fought against the Japanese colonial rule and its historic backgrounds will appeal to a wide variety of fans, not only old film fans but also the new generation", Kim Hak-muk, head of the Sonagi Arts, said.

The musical to be staged next year will offer the same well-textured storyline and dynamic action.

Beside these pieces, other local films _ "The Harmonium in My Memory", "The Ginkgo Bed" and "Love So Divine" _ will also be made into the musicals.

The local musical industry's rush to Korean cinema for content is for a good reason.

In the last several years, Korean musicals have flourished, by relying heavily on imported works or licensed musicals since the blockbuster hit musical "The Phantom of the Opera".

But the quantum leap of the musical markets has created over-heated competition, leading to a steep rise in the price of copyright of licensed musicals. This inevitably raised ticket prices. Thus, homegrown musical companies are forced to come up with contents themselves, without having to pay higher royalties for foreign musicals, critics said.

Because of the lack of homegrown contents and themes, it is natural for producers to use proven name value hit films.

However, Won Jong-won, a musical critic, said that it is not always successful for the film-adapted musicals to just represent the same stories and formats on the stage.

"The musicals should reinterpret the original works in a new form beyond the films", Won said.

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