’Zorro’ to hit stage featuring Gypsy Kings
Screen star Cho Seung-woo returns to musical scene as the pulp hero
By Kwon Mee-yoo
The new musical “Zorro” will bring the pulp magazine hero to the stage in Korea along with fiery flamenco dance and Gipsy Kings’ music in November. The musical boasts a star-studded cast of Cho Seung-woo, Park Geon-hyeong and Kim Joon-hyun as Zorro.
Park Jung-su, the executive producer of the show, said he has three criteria in choosing what to invest in — whether it’s profitable, new and entertaining. “‘Zorro’ has all three elements,” he said at a press conference for the musical at the Plaza Hotel in Seoul, Monday.
Premiered in 2008 on London’s West End, the musical is set in early 19th century California under Spanish rule. Based on the 2005 novel “Zorro” written by Isabel Allende, which originally comes from the 1919 novella “The Curse of Capistrano,” the musical revolves around the wealthy young man, Don Diego de la Vega of California, whose alter ego is the heroic Zorro, defending the people under oppression of his childhood friend Ramon.
John Gertz, president and CEO of Zorro Productions, sent a video clip celebrating the new show and said he was impressed by Korean producer’s professionalism and allowed them to create their own production.
“I personally plan to attend the Korean opening night and we will learn from the Korean production to improve our production,” he said.
Song Han-saem, the Korean producer of the musical, said he persuaded the original production to give him the right to localize “Zorro.” “There were some Broadway or West End hits that failed because they weren’t adapted for the Korean audience and I convinced them we could localize the show with the best creators in Korea,” Song said. “We can add songs or scenes to the original script as long as it goes with the spirit of ‘Zorro.’”
David Swan, well-known for his direction of “Jekyll and Hyde” here, will direct.
“As a kid I grew up with the story of Zorro — books, movies, comic books and television show — I think he is the first American super hero. He has charm, wit and a high style with everything he does. Through all that fun, Zorro is a guy just trying to do his best,” Swan said. “I found the character very appealing and when you combine that with the Gypsy Kings’ music, it is perfect for the show.”
Swan created the script for the Korean “Jekyll and Hyde” production by combining four existing versions of the musical and he is revising the script of “Zorro” as well.
“I’m focusing on the strength of the story and defining the characters better,” the director said.
“Zorro” will feature a variety of interesting elements onstage from magic and stage combat to stunt work and flamenco dance. Wire action will fly actors from the second floor balcony of the auditorium to the stage.
Musical supervisor Kim Mun-jeong said she will bring professional Gypsy and Latin musicians in Korea to the musical.
Cho Seung-woo, the actor most in demand for musicals, chose “Zorro” as his next show following sold-out performances in “Jekyll and Hyde.”
Zakky, the co-producer of the musical, first introduced “Zorro” to him in 2008 by gifting him a CD recording of the West End production.
“I always wanted to perform serious characters in a musical show,” Cho said. “Some 10 years ago while I was starring in the musical ‘The Last Empress,’ musical supervisor Kolleen Park told me that I was a good match for the character of Zorro.”
Cho mostly starred in Western period plays such as “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Man of La Mancha.” “I think I have a taste for romanticism and I am thrilled with old stories. If I had a time machine, I would go back to the past rather than the future,” he said.
Park has played swordsmen before in “Hamlet” and “The Three Musketeers” and pledged to show improved skills this time.
He expressed his thoughts on heroes saying, “I think, for instance, scolding students who smoke is something that a hero would do.”
Kim Joon-hyun, who has returned from Japan’s major theater company Shiki, will alternate in the role of Zorro with Cho and Park. Though not as famous as the other two, Kim is a rising star on the Korean musical scene with a handsome face and outstanding singing ability and performed as Jekyll in “Jekyll and Hyde” and Anderson in “Jack the Ripper.”
“I think these top actors must have some reason to become stars and I will try to learn from them as much as possible,” he said. “Finding the color of my Zorro character is my homework and I will find it during rehearsals.”
Actresses Cho Jung-eun and Gu Won-young will share the role of Luisa, Don Diego’s lover who falls for Zorro, while Kim Sun-young and Lee Young-mi play Inez, a bold and brave Gypsy woman coming to California chasing Don Diego.
Veteran actor Kim Bong-hwan, who played theater owner Firmin in “The Phantom of the Opera,” will portray Diego’s father Don Alejandro.
A 20-piece ensemble will take charge of the passionate flamenco dancing. Exceptional for a press conference, all ensemble performers attended the event and introduced themselves.
Song the producer said, “We held the earliest auditions among other musicals scheduled for the second half of the year to pick the best cast.”
The musical will raise its curtain on Nov. 4 at the Blue Square in Hannam-dong, a new theater operated by Interpark which will be open by then. Tickets cost from 30,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information visit www.zorrothemusical.co.kr.