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Comic Book Love Story Reborn as Musical

Posted October. 05, 2005 07:18,   


“The Rose of Versailles” is an unforgettable comic book love story for those over 30.

It was first introduced in Korea in its counterfeit version in the 1980s, originating from Ikeda Riyoko’s comic. The comic draws a realistic picture of France in the 18th century, enough for fans to say that they learned about the French Revolution through “The Rose of Versailles.” The main characters are Queen Marie Antoinette from Austria and the head of the Royal Guards, Oscar, a woman impersonating a man. Count Fersen and Andre, a commoner and Oscar’s childhood friend, complete the foursome that make up the love story at the time of the French Revolution.

The story is now coming to the stage as a musical. Takarazuka, an all-female theater troupe that is highly regarded in Japan, will perform its hit musical for the first time in Korea. The first performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. on November 11, with 3:00 p.m. performances on November 12 and 13. It is being held in the Palace of Peace at Kyunghee University’s Seoul campus. 50,000~120,000 won. Korean subtitles provided. 02-2113-6856

“The Rose of Versailles”: Of Women, By Women-

Takarazuka is not well known in Korea. Unlike Kabuki where male actors play the female roles as well, in Takarazuka, established in 1914, actresses play men’s roles. With 400 actresses and 100 staff members, it is a large theater troupe. It is also notable that as one has to leave the troupe after marriage, all 400 actresses are single.

The company consists of five teams, and among them, the “star” team is visiting Korea. The main actresses for the leading male and female characters are fixed in each team. The actresses that play male roles even have masculine voices.

“Yeoseong Gukgeuk,” Korean all-female troupes, also gained popularity once, but they are barely surviving, while Japan’s Takarazuka boasts great popularity with a firm fan base. Though Takarazuka performed in Korea once in 1940 during the Japanese colonial rule, this is its first performance since Korea’s liberalization. While domestic performances have been pursued many times, efforts were made in vain due to the 1.5 billion won production costs (for a three-day performance). However, this year, efforts succeeded as both governments provided support in commemoration of the “Korea-Japan Visit Year 2005”.

Troupe to Perform “Antoinette Version”-

“The Rose of Versailles is Takarazuka’s main performance piece and has been an unprecedented hit that has attracted 3.56 million spectators since its first performance in 1974.

Takarazuka has two versions of “The Rose of Versailles”. One is the “Antoinette version” which focuses on the love story of Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen, and the other is the “Oscar version” that concentrates on the love story of Oscar and Andre.

The “Antoinette version” will be performed in Korea. Of course, the characters of Oscar and Andre appear in this version, but only as supporting characters. Considering the fact that Oscar is the one that comes to mind first when thinking of “The Rose of Versailles”, it is a little regretful that the “Oscar version” will not be performed. However, Kozoki Wataru, Takarazuka’s star performer, who plays Oscar in the “Oscar version” will play the main male character, Fersen.

Though the comic book begins from the characters’ childhood, the musical is set in their adulthood. The comic shows the secret feuds in the palace, the political situation of the times and the process leading up to the revolution, but the musical strictly focuses on the love story.

Sue-Jean Kang sjkang@donga.com