Protip: Check out international musical theatre.

Rebecca das MusicalWhen one thinks of musical theatre, it’s easy to have a myopic focus on Broadway. After all, it is held as the pinnacle of the art form, and in American culture, the name is used interchangeably with “musical” (ie: people will refer to themselves as “Broadway fans” just as quickly as “musical fans”; someone might say he saw a “Broadway” show in Cleveland; etc.). Many fans will also know of London’s West End as well, as it’s a similarly prolific producer of musicals and there is such a frequent exchange of shows between the two.

What many fans may not realize, however, is that there is a whole wide world of musical theatre ready to be explored.

PotO- Lee Hye-Kyung and Ryu Jung-HanOne of the easiest ways to explore theatre around the world is just to look up international productions of musicals you already know. Pictured above is a Korean production of The Phantom of the Opera, and big-name musicals like Phantom, Les Misérables, Rent, and Wicked are easy to find around the world. Of course, classics like West Side Story and Grease are also easy to find internationally. Two countries whose musical theatre productions I’ve been really into lately are Spain and South Korea. Both of these countries have amazingly talented performers and mount productions of extremely high quality.

I started really getting into Spanish musical theatre because of Daniel Anglès, who plays Mark in the video above. He is very active in the musical theatre scene as both performer and creator. It was while listening to the Spanish recording of Notre Dame de Paris (which is the best recording of the show, IMO) that I first heard Daniel and fell in love with his voice. While looking for more of his musical performances, I found so much to love in the country’s productions.

Similarly, I started exploring Korean musical theatre because of one particular performer, in this case an actress named Ock Joo-Hyun.

This video featuring Joo-Hyun as Aida came up on my YouTube recommendations and when I watched it I was simply amazed. The talent and commitment exhibited by the entire company in this video is as good as or better than any Broadway production. I had already seen a little bit of Korean musical theatre by the time I found this video, having already seen and loved the Seoul productions of Notre Dame de Paris and Billy Elliot, but this particular video really cemented my appreciation for the country’s productions.

As I explore more, I find so much to love in the country’s musical culture. There are so many talented performers and productions of such high quality. The musical theatre culture really seems alive in South Korea, with well-loved stars bringing lots of fans and publicity to their shows.

Notre Dame de Paris- Garou and Helene SegaraChecking out international productions of English-language musicals is a great way to expand your musical theatre horizons, but what about musicals which are actually created overseas? They can definitely be tougher to get into, since you really need to know what you’re looking for. That is, unless you can read and understand foreign languages well enough to find them on your own, in which case I admire and envy you. Even without the benefit of understanding the language, these musicals can still be mighty enjoyable.

Some of the big ones which have had massive success are the aforementioned Notre Dame de Paris, Rebecca: das Musical, Kristina från Duvemåla, Elisabeth, and Tanz der Vampire. I myself have only fully watched the first two of this short list (so far) and absolutely recommend them. Luckily, most of these musicals can be found with English subtitles to aid your enjoyment.

If you’re a fan of musical theatre, please do yourself a favor and check out international musical theatre. There’s so much out there to love and you’d be surprised by how the “language barrier” is barely even an inconvenience.

3 thoughts on “Protip: Check out international musical theatre.

  1. Pingback: New Musical Theatre Material & The West End: ‘From Here To Eternity’ – Jamie Simmons

    • I know, I was seriously floored when I first saw it. She just opened the Korean production of Wicked as lead Elphaba so I can’t wait until some videos of that start circulating! (and Nehebka from the video is in it too, as the alternate Glinda!)

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