BUSAN, South Korea – It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon in northern Busan – but one apartment building at the foot of Mt. Guemjeong is bursting with the sound of music.
That’s because the cast and crew of Busan’s Second Annual Musical Revue has recently kicked their rehearsals into high gear.
The Busan Musical Revue is becoming an annual tradition for the expat community in Busan. It's a raucous afternoon filled with selections from the most beloved Broadway musicals of the past few decades. The main feature of the show is singing. And this year, the Revue has really brought the talent out. The cast features Korean and expat singers from all over Busan and the surrounding countryside.
The talent ranges from former professionals to performers whose experience doesn’t go very far outside the occasional late night noraebong session. But, directors Mary Rose Luksha and Krystal Burns have managed to mold their entire cast into something professional., though it hasn't been done without its share of difficulty.
"Theatre in Busan is done by sheer force of will," said Luksha. "It's all about getting people with a thousand different schedules together at one place and keeping things tightly focused so you can get a huge amount of rehearsal done in a small period of time.”
Chief among the players is Jered Solace, a cast member also serving as the Revue’s unofficial choreographer. Solace is a veteran of the Kansas City professional theatre scene — one of the largest and most competitive Regional Theatre communities in the United States. In Kansas, Solace choreographed eight professional shows and performed in twice as many, making the Busan Revue just another day at the office for him.
Even better, Luksha and Co. managed to scare up some of the local Korean talent, all of them singing in English. Heading the bilingual cast members is William Kim, a Seoul native studying Navigation at Busan Maritime University. “[Kim] is absurdly dedicated,” says Luksha. “He’s the best example I know of how difficult it is to sing in your second language.”
“I spend like six hours a day just practicing” Kim says. His main trouble is with English intonation — but the fire in his voice more than makes up for it.
Up on the roof, the troupe gets their chops down, preparing for the big show.
The Revue cast members have taken to cramming all 12 of its singers into a small one-person apartment and rehearsing for long hours every Sunday. Smaller groups of cast members get together and practice everywhere from public parks to rooftops in Seomyeon.
"It really helps having a really dedicated cast," said Luksha.
This year's theme is titled "Love…Hurts." Essentially, the show will come in two acts: the first being called (you guessed it) ‘Love’. It will take selections from Broadway hits like Avenue Q and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It will focus on both how wonderful (and hilarious!) falling in love can be. The second act is titled “Hurts” and takes an off-kilter look at how terrible (and hilarious!) love can be. The goal of this year’s revue is to be both ”beautiful and funny” according to Luksha.
"We don't want to be overly sappy," she said.
This year’s revue will be at the Vinyl Underground in KSU on Sunday, December 4th at 5 p.m. The show is expected to only run two hours, with a fifteen minute intermission between the two acts. You can get more info on the Haps event page.