Anticipation is heightening as the Korean rendition of “Spring Awakening,” which made its debut on Broadway in December 2007, was briefly showcased in Seoul Monday.
The Korean version of the Tony Award-winning musical will be put on stage for the first time in July with the Korean cast of musical stars Kim Mu-yeol, Cho Jung-seok, and Kim Yu-young.
The musical is expected to send a sensational wave to the local musical scene and the general audience for its striking format and subject.
Based on the 1891 Frank Wedekind’s controversial German play of the same title, the musical with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater deals with taboo subjects as teenage pregnancy, sexual and physical abuse, homosexuality, abortion and teen suicide.
The plot focuses on a group of teenagers coming of age and their questions and curiosity. Central to the story are Wendla, a young girl who wants to know “where babies come from”; Moritz, an intense young man kept awake at night by dreams he considers disturbing; and the extremely intelligent Melchior, who has gleaned information from books and assures Moritz his dreams are perfectly natural.
“We will revive the Broadway original including the parts that portray the sexual love. But this musical is sensational not because it contains sexual expression but also it breaks the notions of the conventional musical theaters,” Park Yong-ho, producer and head of Musical Heaven, told reporters in the showcase of the musical.
Based on alt-rock and pop music, the musical contains many monologues of characters, which depict internal struggles through poetic languages rather than conversations between characters.
Also, the musical doesn’t follow a conventional plot and instead parallels separate stories in each scene, which is different from the musical many people know.
The original play was banned in Germany due to its portrayal of masturbation, abortion, rape and suicide. He said that it was also difficult to bring the musical to Korea as there is worry that it concerns teenagers who are struggling with the inner and outer tumult of sexuality.
“But it’s thought-provoking, heart-breaking and daring. As we have had the same period of adolescence, we don’t feel any cultural gap from it because it touches upon universal themes anyone can experience regardless of time and space, although it was made in Germany long ago,” he said.
Kim Min-jung, director of the Korean musical, said it was long and hard to adapt the original musical into the Korean version due to the language difference. “Our rehearsal will begin around in May because of the long workshop period and the translation process. But we can feel so much passion and heated-up mood of young actors in this showcase,” Kim said.
Cho Jung-seok will take the role of Mortiz, a nervous and intense young man, while Kim Mu-yeol will play Melchior, a radical, intelligent and good-looking student. Kim Yu-young will debut as Wendla, an adolescent girl in the musical.
“I felt as if I were back to my adolescent period while working in the audition and workshop, although it has been long since I graduated from the high school. I will try to bring out the young and pure spirit from me to perform the boy in the show,” Cho said.
The entire cast will perform the show’s rock score, which seems contemporary and suited to the story, although the show’s setting remains 1890s Germany.
“Spring Awakening” went on to earn 11 Tony Award nominations, winning eight, including the award as Broadway’s best musical of the 2007-08 season.
The musical will go on stage at Doosan Art Center from July 4 to Jan. 10 in 2010. For more information, call (02) 744-4337.
By Chung Ah-young