Seeing Les Mis in Korean was both very difficult and very easy at the same time. Getting to the theater wasn’t hard, as most places in Seoul have really good directions from public transport. So I headed to the theater a bit early to get my ticket, since buying it online hadn’t worked. But once I got there, I was seized with panic. I didn’t know how to buy a ticket! I got up to the box office, but I couldn’t read the signs, so I didn’t know where to go. So I did my standard wait-and-see-what-a-Korean-does, and to my delight, somebody walked up to buy a ticket. So I followed after them and pointed to the section I wanted (there’s a lot of pointing here because my vocab is so limited. I don’t know how to say ticket…) the girl rang up my ticket and gave me a free poster! Then I had to turn around and ask where to go, so I pointed to the ticket and said “Ohdee?” because knowing the question words really comes in handy. So once the doors opened, I sat down, eventually surrounded by Koreans.
But once the show started, it didn’t matter. This was the easy part. I know the score to Les Mis almost as well as I know Phantom, so I wasn’t lost, story wise. Korean actually works pretty well with Les Mis, since a lot of it is quite staccato, so only one or two songs felt like they were rushed or had too many syllables. Like In My Life.Cosette’s part was pretty rushed, and they kept saying Co-jet instead, which is odd, because Korean does have an s sound. Maybe they were saying Coshette but it sounded like a J to me. Anywho, despite the fact that I don’t speak Korean, I really enjoyed the show. The cast was phenomenal, and I thought there were really good little touches to make it better. For example, when Valjean is almost getting robbed by Thenardier right after Marius and Cosette run into each other, some of the thug guys were trying to go for Cosette, but Marius got in and protected her. I like that better than the standard “we run into each other and see each other for a second but are in love” thing. At least he was kind of chivalrous here. Even tho he’s still an oblivious dummy . And the Javert BLEW ME AWAY with Stars. I loved it so much that I decided halfway through act 1 that I wanted the CD.
So at intermission I go out and ask about the cd. Which means I pointed to it and said- Hangoogul? Which means Korean. The girl shook her head and I pointed and said “Young-uh” which is English and she said yes so I said nevermind. She was probably really confused because obviously I speak English not Korean. But I KNOW the English version and have it already. I WANTED KOREAN. But alas, there was no CD of this amazing cast.
So I sit back down and enjoy the second act, trying once again to hide my tears (Come to Me always gets me in Act I- and I enjoyed how this Fantine and Eponine actually sang like they were dying and running out of time. I get that it’s fake, but I always like a little gasping and weakening to show they’re dying. Especially Eponine, who just got shot but can BELT? Yeah ok) . It was kind of awkward cause Koreans aren’t as familiar with musicals as Westerners are, so there was always an awkward “Should we applaud, should we not?” after every song. The applause definitely wasn’t as loud as in America or London until curtain call, and there was no standing ovation from the whole audience, but most people waved at the cast while they were on stage. So I don’t know if that’s how they show appreciation. I was excited to catch phrases I knew, like in A Little Fall of Rain, I caught ghinchan-a, which means it’s ok or I’m ok, which is what they were saying instead of “Don’t you fret” (also that’s probably not how you Romanize it, but I’m really bad at that so whatever. I just write what it vaguely sounds like to me…). It was very exciting to catch even a couple of words.
Afterwards, I went to Sarah’s and we had dinner and returned to her wifi filled apartment to hang out, watch TV and blog and Skype friends. I used the time to research on Tumblr. Some saint uploaded the whole recording of a show they saw, so of course I downloaded it and I am happily listening to On My Own in Korean right now. Bliss.
Bottom line, I didn’t understand all of it, but it was an exciting adventure, and the emotional impact was still there, even without getting all the words. It’s pretty cool when a show can do that. So now I sit with baited breath, hoping that Phantom of the Opera will make a glorious return (in Korean) to Seoul very soon!