Struggling to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic, theaters are starting to offer musical fans the chance to watch performances via a paid livestreaming service. “Return: The Promise of the Day,” a musical produced by the Korean Army and Insight Entertainment, will hold four special performances from Sept. 24 to 26, which will be livestreamed for paid viewers.
The musical premiered last year and is scheduled to be staged again this June, but the second production fell through due to the pandemic. To deal with the cancellation, “Return” was streamed live for free on June 10 and attracted over 2.8 million viewers.
The number of viewers is exceptionally high for an online screening of a musical performance ― the popularity of “Return” is a result of its cast consisting of top-tier K-pop stars including D.O. and Xiumin of EXO and former Wanna One member Yoon Ji-sung.
Boosted by the success of the streaming, fueled by the huge fandom of K-pop, the Korean Army and Insight Entertainment decided to stage the show solely for online streaming amid the pandemic.
Musical “Return” revolves around the mission to recover and identify soldiers who were killed or went missing during the 1950-53 Korean War. The musical tracks back and forth between two timelines ― the present Seung-ho (played by Lee Jeong-yeol and Lee Gun-myung) looking for the remains of his old friends with his grandson, while the past Seung-ho (D.O. and Yoon Ji-sung) joins the military with his friends.
As the show is streamed live, there will be a 20-minute intermission between acts during which a behind-the-scenes video will be screened. English subtitles will also be provided.
Tickets for online viewing cost 25,000 won, which is about a quarter of the price of admission to the show at a theater.Another musical “Sonata of a Flame,” starring K-pop singers Ryeowook of Super Junior, Hui of Pentagon and Yoo Hwe-seung of N. Flying, will also charge for its live streaming, targeting international audiences.
Based on Kim Dong-in’s 1930 novel of the same name, “Sonata” tells the story of a genius composer J, his earnest friend S and his professor, K, who urges J to commit a murder to complete his music. Ryeowook, Hui and musical actor Kim Ji-cheol alternate to play J, while Yoo, Hong Joo-chan of Golden Child and Yoo Seung-hyun alternate as S.
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The musical, which opened in August, is currently staged at Uniflex in Seoul’s theater district Daehangno, but more than half of its seats are unavailable due to the socially distanced seating policy implemented to prevent the spreading of COVID-19.
Only about 250 audience members are allowed into the 600-capacity theater and the production company Shinswave installed 10 cameras among the empty seats for the online streaming.
“We will convey the dynamic nature of a live performance as much as possible, as well as close-up shots to show scenes that cannot be seen from ordinary seats,” an official from Shinswave said. “Every show is different from the previous night and we hope the audiences will enjoy each night’s show online wherever they are.”
Thirteen shows from Sept. 18 through 26 will be available for online livestreaming worldwide, except for China and Indonesia.
The last performance of Hui and Yoo on Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. and Ryeowook at 5:30 p.m. will be offered on large screens in Korea through multiplex chain CGV and in Hong Kong in addition to the online service.
“We hope this will provide a new chance and market for the musical industry during COVID-19,” the official said.
Source: The Korea Times