The Korean airwaves will soon be alive with "My Fair Lady
", when a TV reality show begins auditions to cast the role of Eliza Doolittle in an upcoming Seoul production of the beloved Broadway musical.
OD Musical Company, joining hands with ON media, one of local cable TV channels, is producing the first Korean version of TV reality shows selecting new musical stars. It follows a similar format that the hit BBC series "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" took two years ago.
The British TV production enjoyed incredible popularity and made Connie Fisher, a telephone operator, a new-born star chosen by the public to play Maria in the musical "The Sound of Music". The BBC program won the 2007 International Emmy Award for best non-scripted entertainment program.
Shin Chun-soo, head of OD Musical company, said that the Korean version of the TV reality show will help the company pick out young talent and make the musical known to the public before it hits the stage.
"It is hard to make a musical production successful unless you have big name stars performing on the stage. I expect to increase public interest both in the musical and young actors through the TV show", said Shin.
Preliminary auditions for the Korean rendition of "My Fair Lady
" began last month, starting with a three-city audition tour of Seoul, Gwangju and Busan. According to the OD musical company, it had more than 1,000 applicants for the role of Eliza Doolittle, which made Julie Andrews famous in the 1956 musical production.
About 400 hopefuls were invited for callbacks in Seoul and a total of 20 finalists are currently attending the survival camp for further training. The program is set to air this week and is expected to show how those finalists go through auditions, training sessions and evaluation.
The winner will join the cast of the musical premiering in August at the Sejong Center in central Seoul.
Other TV shows designed to discover new musical stars are scheduled to be screened later this year.
Last week, Shownote Inc. and its partner CJ entertainment said they will produce a TV reality series to cast the role of a transsexual rock singer in the Korean adaptation of the musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch".
Shownote is planning to go through three rounds of the auditioning process beginning on April 14 at a theater in Seoul. The result of the show will be released in May through two local cable channels: MBC Dramanet and MBC Everyone.
The musical has built up a cult-like status in Korea thanks to the strong popularity of Cho Seung-woo
and Oh Man-seok
, who both played transsexual rock singer Hedwig at the first series of the rock musical in 2005. The new production featuring the winner of the TV reality show will hit the stage at KT & G Sangsang Madang in June.
SM Entertainment, led by singer-turned-businessman Lee Soo-man, is also planning to find young talents for the upcoming Seoul production of the Broadway musical "Xanadu". The musical follows the journey of a muse who comes to the earth to help a struggling artist open a roller disco. This is the first musical production for SM Entertainment, known as the most successful pop-idol factory in all of Asia during the past few years.
By Cho Chung-un