Kim Sun-young, left, playing Aerang in the musical “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily,” holds hands with Patti Kim, the original Aerang in 1966. A revival of “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily,” the first Korean homegrown musical, will be staged at CJ Towol Theater of Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul from Feb. 19.
/ Courtesy of CJ E&M
Korea's first musical brought back to life with modern twist
Forty-seven years ago, a musical “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily” raised its curtain at Seoul Citizen Center, now the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
The first Korean homegrown show opened on Oct. 26, 1966, starring pop diva Patti Kim as the leading lady Aerang. The show received rave reviews from the audience and even ticket touts appeared during the short four-day run. The show was revived five times until 1996, but it was discontinued, failing to keep abreast with the times.
The classic will be revived with newly arranged music and cutting-edge technology at CJ Towol Theater of Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul from Feb. 19, 2013, co-produced by CJ E&M and Musical Heaven.
Based on a Korean novel “Baebijang-jeon” dating back to the late Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily” is set on Jeju Island and revolves around Aerang, a “gisaeng,” or Korean courtesan, and Bae, a staff member of new Jeju minister. Bae tries to keep his chastity for his late wife, but Aerang approaches Bae to seduce him as she does not trust fidelity of noblemen.
Patti Kim, 74, the original Aerang, and Kim Sun-young, 38, who will reprise the role next February, met at the press conference of the musical, Monday.
“I am literally moved to see the show restaged after 47 years,” Patti Kim said. “I also envy the actors who are in better circumstances now.”
Patti Kim dreamt of becoming a musical actress and moved to the United States, but all she could get was a role in “Flower Drum Song” in Las Vegas. She temporarily returned to Korea to look after her sick mother and auditioned for “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily.”
She traced her memory back to the rehearsals of the premiere of the show. “It was really cold and we had this stove on to keep the rehearsal room warm. We practiced for more than three months for a week run, but had to wrap up in five days because the government needed the theater for the visit of then-U.S. President Lyndon Johnson,” Patti Kim said. “I think Kim Sun-young will play the role very well since she has a great career in musical theater and most of all, beautiful appearance.”
Kim Sun-young said she feels honored to be part of such a meaningful project and sang “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily,” the principal number of the show during the presser. “Patti Kim is my role model and I am burdened to sing this famous song in front of her today,” Sun-young said. “As a musical actress, it is great to see the first Korean musical revived.”
Her theater credits include Elisabeth of “Elisabeth,” Lucy of “Jekyll and Hyde” and Aldonza of “Man of La Mancha.”
Noted actors Choi Jae-woong and Hong Kwang-ho will alternate the role of Aerang’s counterpart Bae.
Directed by Gustavo Zajac of “Fiddler on the Roof” and Kim Min-jung of “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” the musical will use the original music written by the late Choi Chang-kwon, supervised by his son and composer Choi Kwi-seob. Choi said he will focus on adding a modern twist to the original music, which is based on Korean folk songs.
Park Yong-ho, president of Musical Heaven, said projection will be the most distinguished thing in the new version. The 2013 “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily” hired Aaron Michael Rhyne, the projection designer of Broadway’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” to materialize beautiful scenery of Jeju Island on stage.
“We will keep the original sentiment of the show, but the projection will imbue freshness to the sceneries. We will even have a holographic character,” Park said.
CJ E&M is trying to take the show overseas in the long term. “We are assessing the target market and might have an international version of the show sometime later,” Kim Byeong-seok, senior vice president of CJ E&M Performing Arts Business Unit, said. However, no foreign language subtitles are planned for the 2013 run of “Sweet, Come to Me Stealthily.”
The musical will preview on Feb. 16, 2013, open on Feb. 19 and run through March 31. Tickets will be on sale from Jan. 8. For more information, call 1588-0688.