'Woyzeck' to get Korean spin in London
By Kwon Mee-yoo
More Korean theater producers are looking to take their workld abroad. A reading of the musical "Woyzeck" at Charing Cross Theatre in London on June 29 has this aspiration.
The 300-seat theater was filled with theater executives and staffers, who came to see a workshop for the show subtitled "The Ruby Necklace." It was produced by Korean theater company Acom International, led by Yun Ho-jin of "The Last Empress" and "Hero."
The 40-minute reading included highlights of the musical, focusing on the love of Woyzeck and Marie with live music.
"Woyzeck" is an unfinished play by Georg Buchner that premiered in 1913. The stage play revolves around German soldier Woyzeck and his lover Marie and describes how he suffers in the army and ends up killing his wife. With its simple yet contracted storyline, the work has spawned numerous adaptations from opera to movies.
The company said “The Ruby Necklace” has received much attention from West End producers and the theater industry, as it beautifully portrays a philosophical messages amid in vogue retro-style movie-turned-musicals such as "Singin' in the Rain" and "Ghost."
The project began in 2005 and Acom International auditioned the creative team for the musical version of "Woyzeck." The Singing Loins, an underground band composed of Chris Broderic and Rob Shepherd, won the competition and wrote the script and music for "The Ruby Necklace," combining strong folk guitar melodies and post-punk songs. The duo's experience in musical theater includes "The Ballad of Elizabeth Sulky Mouth" at Greenwich Theatre's showcase program Musical Futures.
Matt Ryan, director of "Les Miserables" and "Miss Saigon," and Nigel Lilley, musical director of "Spring Awakening," "La Cage aux Folles" and "Ragtime" in London's West End, joined the musical version of "Woyzeck," adding more polish to the reading.
More and more Korean producers are eyeing the international market and are participating in the development of new musicals, instead of just buying the rights to them. However, in most cases, they are co-producers with investment in the production without leadership.
Acom International said "Woyzeck" was initiated and led by the Korean company from the beginning. "Unlike other homegrown musicals that need translation or subtitles to be staged overseas, The Ruby Necklace can be put on abroad as it is, expanding the possibilities," said spokeswoman Acom Chung Seon-young.
The show is expected to open in the latter part of next year.