Friday, October 5, 2012

Korean Musical Gets Local Touch

Jayme McDaniel, associate producer of Ogunquit Playhouse, will choreograph “Rebecca” in Seoul, Korea (courtesy photo)
Jayme McDaniel, associate producer at the Ogunquit Playhouse, is taking his skillset on the road, to Seoul, Korea, where he will choreograph the musical “Rebecca.”
The production is based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, which was made into a 1940 film by Alfred Hitchcock.
The show presents some challenges to McDaniel, beyond having to fly across the world to get to work. The musical is German, and is being translated into Korean. McDaniel will have an interpreter with him at all times to help ease the communication difficulties.
The production will be at the LG Art Center in Seoul, opening on January 15, 2013. McDaniel leaves for Korea on November 9.
“This is the first time it’s being done in Korean,” McDaniel said. “Theater is a little different there. On Broadway, for example, when a show starts a run, they hope it goes forever. In Korea, they will have a limited run, and then take the show on the road. They produce a show for three or four months, then they’ll take it off the boards and tour it. Then in a year or two, they bring the show back.”
McDaniel will be there for the limited engagement but won’t take the extended tour.
“When they remount show, I would return and restage it,” he said.
The story of “Rebecca” features a mysterious death, and another production of the musical has encountered some mysteries of its own. The New York version of the musical has been postponed indefinitely, “due to the unfortunate withdrawal of a crucial investor,” according to that show’s website. “All current performances have been cancelled and ticket holders will be fully refunded. The producers wish to thank everyone for their continued support and remain committed to bringing this wonderful and unique musical to Broadway in the future.”
That future has been cast in doubt since the investor, Paul Abrams, died of malaria in London, according to Ben Sprecher, producer of the New York show. Some are wondering if the investor ever even existed, and the mystery is now part of a criminal inquiry by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
McDaniel’s musical in Korea is not related to the New York production in any way, and he is happy that travel and translations will be his main concerns. He is also using the trip to offer himself some much-needed vacation time, as he has just finished a busy and successful season at Ogunquit Playhouse.
McDaniel is returning to the United States after “Rebecca, the Musical” runs in Korea, and he will stage “Always: Patsy Cline” in New Jersey.
“It’s a combination of work and vacation,” said McDaniel, who is also traveling to Thailand and Cambodia.
His involvement in the production stems to Vienna, five years ago, when he saw “Rebecca,” which has also been produced in Budapest, Tokyo, and is currently running in Stuttgart, Germany.
“I was with my good friend, Robert Johanson, artistic director of Papermill Playhouse, the state theater of New Jersey,” McDaniel said. “We were in Germany together in the spring, saw it together and immediately talked about how we would stage it.”
For the last four years, Johanson has been the lone director for EMK, the company producing the show.
“When EMK decided to produce it, we talked again,” McDaniel said. The schedule fit well with his work at Ogunquit Playhouse, he added. “Brad Kennedy and the board gave me the okay, so I’m going off to do it.”
While Korea is new to him, it’s not his first foray into foreign language.
“In 1994, as an actor, I did a production of “Chicago,” touring German cities, and the work was done mainly in German,” he said. “I’ve done some work on operas and their translations. But this is the first time with a whole company of non-speaking actors, and my first time working in Asia.”