Webber musicals take over Busan's musical theater scene

From left, posters of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals “The Phantom of The Opera,“ "Cats,” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” [DREAM THEATRE]

Musical industry titan Andrew Lloyd Webber is taking Busan’s musical theater scene by storm with three of his mega-hits — “Cats,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “The Phantom of The Opera” — opening in a row at the city’s Dream Theatre.

The Asian tour of the musical “Cats” completed its shows at Busan's Dream Theatre on Jan. 15 and is now running at central Seoul’s Sejong Center for the Performing Arts Grand Theater through March 12.

Composed by Webber and based on T.S. Elliot’s 1939 poetry collection titled “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the musical tells the story of a tribe of cats known as the Jellicles. It premiered on West End in 1981.

The show is known for being highly interactive, with the actors climbing down the stage to the audience seats. Such interaction was banned during Covid-19, but this production run of “Cats” will resume its original engagements.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” will run from Feb. 3 to 5 at the Dream Theatre. Opening on Broadway in 1971, the show has regained attention over the years as one that Webber and lyricist Tim Rice worked on together before they rose to be the industry’s mega-star creatives. A sung-through rock opera, the score combines classical music with rock to create iconic numbers such as “Gethsemane” and “Heaven on Their Minds” that keeps the audiences humming the tunes as they leave the theater.

The show is loosely based on the life of Jesus Christ and his relationships with the people around him, especially Judas, during the weeks before his crucifixion. Jesus in the show is depicted as a human being rather than the son of God, as the songs highlight Jesus’ line of emotions leading up to his crucifixion.

Actors Michael Lee and Im Tae-kyung alternate the role of Jesus while Han Ji-sang, Yoon Hyung-yeol, Baek Hyung-hoon and Seo Eun-kwang alternate the role of Judas.

From March 30, the Korean production of “The Phantom of the Opera” will run through June 18 at the Dream Theatre.

Known to be the longest-running musical on Broadway, “The Phantom of the Opera" has also proved largely popular with the local audience since it was first staged in 2001. Its seven-month run at the time drew some 240,000 people. The Korean production of the musical was last staged in 2009.

Based on the French novel “Le Fantome de l’Opera” by Gaston Leroux, “The Phantom of The Opera” is about a soprano, Christine Daae, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius called the Phantom.

Actors Cho Seung-woo, Jeong Dong-seok and Kim Joo-taek alternate the role of Phantom while Son Ji-soo plays Christine.

It will continue its run in Seoul from July 14 at Charlotte Theatre in Songpa District, southern Seoul.

Tickets to all three shows are available on the local ticketing platform Interpark.