Locally produced 'Showman' wins grand prize at Korea Musical Awards

A scene from the musical "Showman" which ran from April to May 2022 at Jeongdong Theater in Jung District, central Seoul. The show won the grand prize in the 2023 Korea Musical Awards on Monday. [YONHAP]

Homegrown musical “Showman” took home the grand prize at Monday night’s Korea Musical Awards held at LG Art Center in Gangseo District, western Seoul.

The Korea Musical Awards is the country’s largest annual musical ceremony, hosted by the Korea Musical Association and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korea Culture and Arts Committee and LG Art Center.

“Showman” is a black comedy about a meeting of a young cynic named Soo-ah and an eccentric old man named Nebula who claims that when he was young, he was a stand-in dictator part in a fictional country.

The musical premiered last April at Jeongdong Theater in Jung District, central Seoul. Creative trio — writer Han Jeong-seok, director Park So-young and composer Lee Sun-yeong — who are also behind local hits “The Goddess” and “Red Book,” are the creators of “Showman.”

“Showman” also won Best Script and its lead actor Yoon Na-moo was awarded Best Male Actor.

Best Female Actor went to the female lead of “Seopyeonje” Lee Ja-ram. Often called a pansori (traditional musical storytelling by a singer and a drummer) musical, “Seopyeonje” was performed for the last time in October at Kwanglim Arts Center in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. The license period of the musical’s original material, a 1976 short story of the same title by author Yi Cheong-jun (1939-2008), expired late last year. Lee has played the leading role of Song-hwa, a passionate pansori performer, in “Seopyeonje” since its very first production 12 years ago.

Actor Lee Ja-ram performs as the lead in the musical "Seopyeonje" which ran from August to October 2022 at Kwanglin Arts Center in Gangnam District, southern Seoul. [YONHAP]

The licensed production of “Death Note” took home the most number of awards — Best Production (for shows with more than 400 seats), Best Directing, Best Supporting Actor (Kang Hong-seok) and Best Stage Arts.

The musical is based on the Japanese manga series of the same title by Tsugumi Obha and Takeshi Obata. With music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Jack Murphy, the musical premiered in Korea in 2015. The story follows a high school student named Yagami Light, who stumbles upon a notebook that kills those whose names get written in it.

The production run of "Death Note", which began in April, was extended for about a month and a half at Chungmu Art Center in Jung District, after completely selling out its initial run.

New sci-fi musical “Let Me Fly” nabbed Best Production (for shows with less than 400 seats) and Best Music. In the show, the main character Nam-won has suddenly traveled 50 years into the future after fainting and tries to get back to his original life in 1969 where his beloved wife lives.

The Best Producer award went to Kim Mi-hye and Park Min-sun behind the licensed production of “Mrs. Doubtfire” which ran from August to November last year at Charlotte Theater in Songpa District, southern Seoul. It was the Broadway show's first international production.

Based on the 1993 film of the same name, “Mrs. Doubtfire" is a family-oriented comedy musical about a middle-aged man named Daniel Hillard who loses his job and gets divorced. After he loses custody of his children, Daniel creates the alter ego of a Scottish nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire, to stay in his kids' lives.

The show shared the Best Stage Art prize with “Death Note.”

A scene from the Korean production of the musical "Mrs. Doubtfire" which ran from August to November 2022 at Charlotte Theater in Songpa District, southern Seoul [YONHAP]

The Rookie Award was given to Shin Eun-chong who played Simon in the licensed production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and child actors Im Ha-yoon, Jin Yeon-woo, Choi Eun-yeonga and Ha Shin-bi of “Matilda.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar” concluded its Seoul run this week, but will be staged from Feb. 3 to 5 in Busan's Dream Theatre.

The show depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his relationships with the people around him, especially Judas, during the weeks before his crucifixion.

"Matilda" is based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 best-selling novel and tells the story of a gifted young girl named Matilda who possesses telekinetic powers. While dealing with her insensitive parents, Matilda befriends her school teacher, Miss Honey, and defends her friends from her evil principal Miss Trunchbull. It runs through Feb. 26 at D-Cube Arts Center in Guro District, western Seoul.