Daegu aims to become Asia’s musical theater hub
By Kwon Mee-yoo
A variety of musical theater groups from across the globe will hit the southern city of Daegu from June 22 to July 8 during the Daegu International Musical Festival (DIMF).
The festival celebrates its 12th year with 24 shows from the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Taiwan, China and Kazakhstan as well as some world premieres from Korea.
“We always try to balance popular appeal and artistry while selecting shows for the festival as an attempt to satisfy both avid theatergoers and local residents,” Bae Sung-hyuk, DIMF executive committee chairman, said.
Bae emphasized the festival’s internationality with the opening show “Mefisto” from the Czech Republic and the closing performance “Flashdance the Musical” from London’s West End.
“Mefisto” was created by the Hybernia Theatre in Prague on its 10th anniversary and was a big hit in its home country. Based on Goethe’s “Faust,” the musical reverses the perspective from Faust to the demon Mephistopheles and runs from June 22 to 24 at the Daegu Opera House.
“Flashdance,” staged from July 4 to 7 at the Daegu Opera House, is a stage adaptation of the namesake 1983 musical film. It revolves around a dancer named Alex, who works as a steelworker by day. BBC dance competition show “Strictly Come Dancing” champion Joanne Clifton plays Alex for the Korean tour. The musical reenacts the iconic blast of water on stage.
Other officially invited shows include “I Love Piaf” from France, “Romeo and Juliet” from Russia, “Mr. & Mrs. Single” from China, “Meant to Meat” from Taiwan, “Zhibek” from Kazakhstan and “Pianoforte” from Korea.
“Since this is an international festival, we try to introduce overseas works for the opening and closing. However, we also put a lot of effort into nurturing new Korean musicals as well,” Bae said.
DIMF developed the musical “Turandot,” based on the Puccini opera of the same name, and successfully staged it in Daegu, Seoul and China.
“We are in talks with a Hungarian director to state Turandot in Eastern Europe. We plan to start touring from Slovakia and the Czech Republic next year. This is the first for a Korean musical to be exported to Eastern Europe,” Bae said.
“Turandot” will return to Daegu during the festival from June 29 to July 8.
DIMF chose four new shows, and supported their development, which will premiere during the festival.
“Warmly, Creamy, Mellowly” is set in a prison and inspired by hit drama “Prison Playbook,” while “Missing” revolves around a middle-aged woman reminiscing about her days in a textile factory. “Blue Rain” questions the definition of justice and “Elephant Box” adapts the children’s book “An Elephant Who Went to the Forest” for the stage.
The festival is now settled as a popular destination for theater lovers in Asia, according to the organizers.
“We attract theater producers from America and Europe and hope to become a marketplace for them to exchange information and communicate,” Bae said. “Many Asian tourists come to the festival to see shows as well. This year we are expecting group tourists from Taiwan, who are interested in Korean musicals, through a major travel agency there.”
For more information, visit www.dimf.or.kr.