Ich hab geträumt von Manderley (I dreamt of Manderley)
Musical Rebecca and Korean musical market
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On the 15th of November, News H visited Blue Square in Hannam-dong to watch the musical, Rebecca. Although there was more than an hour left until the show, the whole building was crowded with people taking tickets and pictures. The air was filled with joy and excitement. Continued from the last week’s ‘Stepping into the Life of Claude Monet’, this week’s special article would also review a cultural event.
Rebecca, where you may be
‘Ding ding’ the chime, commencing the start of the show, rang and all of a sudden, the 3-story full-house became quiet. The musical, Rebecca, like most of the musical pieces hitting the box office, is a translated production. This piece is also one of the renowned ‘one source multi-use’ product, originally based on Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca (1938). Alfred Hitchcock also made a movie based on the story. Although most of the events happen in a peaceful costal town in the United Kingdom, the whole play is written in German and made in Austria. One of the interesting parts of the story is that Rebecca is dead from the very beginning and, thus, does not come on stage until the end. Moreover, the name of the main character ‘Ich’ (‘I’ in German) is not mentioned throughout the play and is only called as ‘Mrs.de Winter’. This ‘Ich’ describes and leads the entire story.
‘Ich’ does not come from a wealthy family background, so she makes her living by being a paid friend of a rich, old lady. One day, on a vacation in Monte Carlo, ‘Ich’ meets Maxim de Winter, a famous British noble. Like most of the story goes, they instantly fall in love and get married. However, the charm of this particular musical comes from getting rid of the cliché, ‘happily ever after’ storyline. ‘Ich’, happily married, expected her life to completely turn around and the rosy atmosphere to be there forever. Her life did turn around completely but not in a way she had expected. The deceased Mrs.de Winter, Rebecca was unimaginably beautiful, intelligent, and also had a powerful family background. All servants and maids in the house seemed to still miss her and had a hard time accepting the new Mrs.de Winter. Especially Mrs. Danvers, the head housekeeper still preciously takes her old master’s belongings and even her bedroom.
Mrs. Danvers is also one of the leading roles in the show. In this particular show where News H paid a visit, a former idol Ok Ju-hyun played the role. Despite the widespread belief that idols do not sing well, and they cannot settle as a musical actor, Ok is now widely acknowledged as one of the top musical actresses. She made her debut in 2005 as ‘Aida’ in a Broadway blockbuster Aida. At that time, she was harshly criticized for her acts. Nevertheless, through hard work and practice, she is now a renowned actress with more than 18 awards in the musical area. Ok passionately acted and sung as Ms. Danvers on that day, too.
More Koreans in the Korean Market
As the full house of this particular performance shows, the Korean musical market is rapidly growing. Namely, Rebecca itself recorded a 300 thousand audience until today. Considering that, the last shows usually draw bigger crowds, the number is expected to grow even more. In Hyung-geun, an executive director in EMK musical company mentioned that the “Korean musical market has been commercialized for only 20 years now, and many factors such as strong copyrights and existing manias show a bright future for the industry." However, there are worries regarding the long-term sustainability of the industry. Most box office hits are imported and translated. This does generate a lot of fortune and records but does not foster domestic professionals.
A musical is not just a simple show but a complex compound of art. It requires screenwriting, songwriting, singing, acting, stage design, directing, and more. However, if the current trend of import is sustained, the market and needs for domestic production will decrease, leaving less and less professionals who can produce Korean musicals. That does not mean that all original pieces are not doing well. There are a few hits such as Hero and Seopyun-je. In order to make more original products and even export them to the international market, we, the audiences would have to pay more attention to such plays.
Kim So-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
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