Margaret Mitchell’s novel, ‘Gone with the Wind’ is a very American piece. Against the backdrop of Tara, a Southern plantation, during the American Civil War, it contains the eventful life story of Scarlett O’Hara, daughter of the farmer. A French producing team turned this novel into a musical. Gérard Presgurvic, who is known within South Korea with ‘Romeo & Juliet’, is composer and lyricist. A licensed Korean production is currently being staged at the Seoul Arts Centre in the Opera Theatre.
Even though it has been converted into a breathless version, the audience is empathetic to this musical because they effectively reconstructed the main character Scarlett’s life. A woman who is beautiful, bourgeois and at times, overbearing ; her desires, loves and struggles within the massive waves of history envelopes you with deep impressions and pathos. In the last scene, as a bankrupt Scarlett famously tells herself, “Yes, tomorrow, tomorrow’s sun will rise again”, a thought comes to our head that makes us reflect on the meaning of life. This is what transcends time and space. (Note: I believe the actual quote in English is “After all… tomorrow is another day!” but above is translated directly from the article.)
Among this, the most refreshing shock was Seohyun, who is in the role of Scarlett. Truthfully, condensing a vast original work into a two-hour musical is not an easy task. The characters as well as the story have to be communicated through ‘feeling’. Even though Seohyun is a musical rookie, she showed us energy beyond expectation and digested a role that is not easy. This is her second musical role after ‘Moon Embracing the Sun’. We know her well as a ‘SNSD member who sings well’ but it was really great to listen to her voice separately. Her ability to bring emotion through song, the most important part of a musical, rivaled that of a veteran actor. Despite a short career, she endlessly showed us various colours and peculiar charms of woman’s life. Here and there in connecting dialogues, you did notice clumsy acting but overall, her performance was more than enough to get a passing grade. It was as if we were watching Ock Joo-Hyun during her rookie days, a musical sunbae who came from a similar girl group background.
Im Tae-Kyung, who is in the role of the classy, wealthy and sexy Rhett Butler, showed off charisma like a top musical star and balanced Scarlett well. The point of this piece is the chemistry between Scarlett and Rhett Butler and the two actors held the weight of the characters well, and with the harmony among supporting cast and ensemble, the whole piece came to life.
Typically in French musicals, music and dance are separate from the on-stage set. However, this piece decorated the stage and costumes realistically and in splendor, and the music often employs pop ballad style so it’s ‘less French’ than you would think. Only the powerful choreography follows tradition; the dance itself is great but it seems distanced from the storyline.
Among this, the effort put into the stage set shows. The garden and ballroom scenes are memorable, and the video footage helps bring the mood of the piece to life. Lastly, some of the dialogue stands out due to translation into Korean. There is a need to refine and smooth it out further. Until February 15th, at the Seoul Arts Centre, Opera Theatre.
Original Translation: Stella