Playing Off-Broadway through Saturday at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
Commissioned to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the death of patriotic leader An Chunggun, Hero: The Musical premiered in Seoul in 2009 and won all the major Korean musical awards including Best Musical, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Music. Performed in Korean. the $6 million-dollar production has super titles. Using a mix of fictional and historical figures, it tells the tale of Korea's struggle to become an independent nation around the turn of the 20th century.
- The large, beautifully lighted sets (Yu Young Koo and Don Woo Park, design respectively) are a triumph and the full-sized train with its interior view of the compartments (enhanced by projections by Sock Yong Ryu, technical director and Chuck Giles, technical supervisor) rivals some of the best effects you'll see on Broadway.
- The score (music by San Joon Oh, who co-orchestrates with Peter Casey; book and lyrics by A. Reum Han) is quite pleasing and reminds our ear of Broadway classics like Les Mis or something by Andrew Lloyd-Weber. Chung Sunghwa as hero An Chunggun leads a large, enthusiastic ensemble.
- Ran Young Lee's precise and imaginative choreography is nicely executed.
- A musical number that is a mix of "Be Our Guest" and "Master of the House" at the dumpling establishment of freedom-fighter supporter Wangwei (Jeong Euiuk) where the group equates their love of the dumplings to a mother's love for her child before chomping down on dumplings the size of softballs made me very, very happy in the same way I enjoy watching implausible, but highly entertaining Johnny Weismuller "Tarzan" movies.
- Without the subtitles, you might think you were watching a Korean translation of Les Miserables. The opening scene has freedom fighters marching while a flag sweeps behind them and there is a "Little Drop of Rain" number that seemed almost an exact replica.
- A little on the long side at more than two hours and 40 minutes (34 musical numbers).
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