Whether you are a fan of the hit 1990 movie “Ghost” or musicals in general, the upcoming Asian premiere of the West End’s “Ghost the Musical” will likely come as a delight.
For one, you get to hear the famous “Unchained Melody” live on stage, as well as witness the famed pottery wheel sequence. Two, it is being delivered in Korean and stars an all-Korean cast ― including “Bridal Mask” heartthrob Joo Won and talented up-and-coming actress Park Ji-yeon (“Mama Mia!” “Les Miserables”).
Major local musical production house Seensee on Monday unveiled plans for its ambitious project set to open in November. Seensee Company, who has brought big-scale musicals such as “Mama Mia!” and “Aida” to Korea in the past, spent 10 billion won to stage the upcoming show.
“The musical industry is down (in Korea) because of the difficult economy,” said Park Myung-sung, the CEO of the company at the press conference in Seoul, Monday.
“I decided to take a risk and throw a big-scale musical. I think this musical can really appeal to anyone of any age, especially those in their 30s and 40s who enjoyed the movie in the ’90s.”
The musical is based on the hit 1990 romance film in which the late Patrick Swayze starred as Sam, a ghost trying to speak to his grieving girlfriend Molly ― played by Demi Moore ― in an attempt to protect her from his murderer. The film was an international hit, generating more than $500 million in ticket sales around the world. It enjoyed much popularity in Korea as well.
The film’s musical adaptation premiered in Manchester in 2011, and had a separate run in the West End in the same year. It was also performed on Broadway in 2012.
“The reason why I thought it would be a good idea to turn the film into a musical is that the story is inherently theatrical,” said Colin Ingram, the producer of the original show. “There is revenge, there is comedy, and there are spirits. It is very Shakespearean in its story.”
One of the biggest challenges he faced while producing the musical was to create the special effects moments in the film, such as when the ghost walks through a door, Ingram said. To meet the challenge, they worked with Paul Kieve ― a British professional illusionist whose works include the Harry Potter films ― to create the necessary special effects on stage.
Joo Won shares his role of Sam, the ghost, with two other musical actors ― Kim Joon-hyeon and Kim Woo-hyeong. Joo had been a musical actor before making his successful TV debut in the 2010 KBS drama series “Bread, Love and Dreams.” The upcoming show is his return to the stage after three years.
“The musical scene is very much like a home to me,” the actor said during the press conference. “I’ve always wanted to return to the stage after making my TV debut. I’m delighted and grateful to be part of this show.”
Popular singer Ivy and up-and-coming musical actress Park Ji-yeon are sharing the role of Molly, Sam’s beautiful love interest. Park, who is turning 25 this year, won her first role ― Sophie in “Mama Mia!” ― through an audition with a blank resume four years ago. She is currently starring as Eponine in the Seoul run of Cameron Mackintosh’s “Les Miserables.”
“I don’t really want to define who Molly is yet,” said Park. “I don’t think we are starting from the movie in terms of the character development. We are starting from the music and the script to create the Molly we want for the show.”
Veteran actress Choi Jung-won is starring as Oda Mae Brown, the psychic who is approached by the ghost of Sam and ends up helping him communicate with Molly.
“I loved Demi Moore in the film so much that I got a pixie cut just like her (in the ’90s),” Choi said. “I wanted to take any role in this show because I just loved the film so, so much. And I’m very excited to be a part of it.”
“Ghost the Musical” is scheduled to open in November at D-Cube Arts Center in Seoul. Tickets will open on Aug. 20. For more information, call (02) 557-1987.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)