'Hedwig' fans get excited for new season
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Some 100 faithful fans of musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” often dubbed as “Hedheads,” gathered at the Convention Center of Chungmu Art Hall, Monday, with eager expectations for the new production beginning in August.
They came to attend “All That Hedwig,” a special event for the fans that featured a screening of a “Hedwig” concert as well as a talk session with the producer and director. The event was hosted by Shownote, the production company of “Hedwig” in Korea.
Silver-spangled dresses and curly blonde wigs were on display along with photos of previous productions. Fans took photos of the costumes and posed with props from the show.
The musical, based on the book by John Cameron Mitchell with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, describes the life of a transgender, through monologues and rock music. It was staged in numerous countries, and in Korea it was a big hit among them. More than 700 Korean hardcore fans saw the musical more than 10 times and a particularly dedicated 22 of them watched the show over 300 times, proving genuine affection for Hedwig since its local premiere in 2005.
The event began by screening highlights of “Hedwig the Concert” in 2005, which starred the four original cast members of Hedwig in Korea — Cho Seung-woo, Oh Man-seok, Kim Da-hyun and Song Yong-jin — singing numbers from the musical such as “The Origin of Love” and “Wicked Little Town.” Though the audio of the video clip was not very clean, fans were absorbed by the music and reminisced in the looks of their favorite actors from seven years ago.
After watching the concert, Hedheads were given the chance to talk about the show with the local producer and director.
Lim Yang-hyuk, the producer of Shownote, is the person who introduced “Hedwig” to Korea. He first saw the show in 1999 while he was studying in New York City and later bought the license.
“I was shocked by the originality of the show — the subject matter, text, music and everything was beyond my imagination,” he said. “At first, I worried whether it would be accepted by the Korean audience but it became a miraculous success here.”
Lim said “Hedwig” is similar to “gut,” or an exorcism ritual. “But the irony is that Hedwig offers herself as a sacrifice and heals herself,” he said. “When the audience gets immersed in Hedwig, they can also be healed when Hedwig heals herself.”
Kim Min-jung, who directed the homegrown work “The Sorrows of Young Werther” and worked as a resident director for Korean production of “Spring Awakening,” said her interpretation of “Hedwig” is a “kidult.”
“A kidult does not mean adults who collect toys or show childish behavior. Kidults are people who have a primitive innocence, boldness, provocation and resistance similar to that of a child. All artists are kidults and (Pablo) Picasso is a great example,” Kim said.
The director also saw Hedwig as a survivor, referring to the metaphor in the show to survivors of disasters such as the Titanic, World War II and the Bosnian Genocide. “Hedwig is an icon of resistance and I will bring it out of the character, not just the sexual aspect,” she added.
In the seventh production here she cast Oh Man-seok and Park Geon-hyeong as the lead role and actresses Lee Young-mi and Ahn Yu-jin as Hedwig’s husband Yitzhak.
Kim said Oh, who is going to reprise the role from seven years ago, is smart, humorous and quickly understands her direction, while Park is more like a shy boy.
The musical “Hedwig” will open on Aug. 11 at KT&G Sangsang Art Hall in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul and run through Oct. 21. Tickets cost 55,000 to 66,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3485-8700 or follow them on Twitter @shownote.