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The Daegu International Musical Festival

[This is the article I wrote for the Daegu Tourism Agency this month. It has been posted here.]

The 9th iteration of the Daegu International Musical Festival kicked off a few days ago.
The DIMF is the only international musical festival in whole Korea and one the biggest in Asia, focusing not on national musicals but musicals from countries all over the world including the UK, Germany and China. These musicals are then made accessible to Korean audiences by supplying simultaneous subtitles to all the dialogue and songs that can be heard.
Of course the DIMF is also very attractive for foreign visitors, since it isn’t often that English language musicals can be attended in Korea – it’s a great chance to go out and enjoy some culture.

[You'll see announcement banners like these across Daegu for the next couple of weeks to remind you that you should get your tickets soon]

[You’ll see announcement banners like these across Daegu for the next couple of weeks to remind you that you should get your tickets soon]

This year’s DIMF will run from the 26th of June until the 13th of July, so there’s plenty of time left to find a musical you want to see.

There is a total of 19 musicals being shown this year, including 5 Official Invitational Programs, 3 Special Performances, 4 Creative supporting programs and 7 College Musical Festival productions. The Official Invitationals consist of Return to the Forbidden Planet, a sci-fi rock musical; Flower Shoes, a heartbreaking drama that takes place during the Japanese occupation of Korea; Phantom of London, a murder mystery; Sweet Charity, a romantic Hollywood-like production, with Non-Reading Club, a romantic comedy, rounding off the varied program.

Tickets can be booked through the DIMF website and are as affordable as you want to make them; to keep the festival accessible to anyone at any budget Daegu has made sure that you can get a ticket starting from as little as 10,000 won.

As mentioned, one of the things DIMF aims to do is make musicals accessible to anyone, and that includes bringing performances to the streets to make even people with no previous experience with musicals get acquainted. I was lucky enough to run into Keimyung University’s Department of Practical Music’s performance of Grease while shopping downtown, and in spite of the heat and the blazing sun all the actors, singers and dancers managed to deliver a wonderful performance full of passion and enthusiasm that you don’t often see. These soon to be professionals are certainly no less than their sunbaes and if you happen to have the opportunity to see them, I would fully recommend it.

[These guys were dancing like nobody was watching, singing like nobody was listening and acting like...okay, look, they were just really good okay?]

[These guys were dancing like nobody was watching, singing like nobody was listening and acting like…okay, look, they were just really good okay?]

[If you don't remember this part of Grease, that's okay because I'm pretty sure they decided to slap on some Les Miserables near the end]

[If you don’t remember this part of Grease, that’s okay because I’m pretty sure they decided to slap on some Les Miserables near the end]

Of course the main draw of this festival is however the availability of international musicals, performed by their original cast and crew. One such musical, and the opener of this year’s DIMF, is Return to the Forbidden Planet – a rock musical written by Bob Carlton, narrated by Queen’s Brian May and spearheaded by Sean Needham and Matthew Devitt.

[The Daegu Opera House is the venue for most of the Official Invitationals - and a fine venue it is]

[The Daegu Opera House is the venue for most of the Official Invitationals – and a fine venue it is]

The main plot, a playful mix of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and 50’s pulp Sci-Fi films, finds the crew of a space ship stranded on an uncharted planet that just so happens to house a long thought missing doctor, aptly named Dr. Prospero, whose history and future plans could spell doom for the entire crew..and perhaps the world.

[Photo courtesy of Return to the Forbidden Planet official website]

[Photo courtesy of Return to the Forbidden Planet official website]

Return to the Forbidden Planet is a love poem to classic rock songs, seamlessly blending such classics as Elvis’ All Shook Up, Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire, Roy Orbison’s Only the Lonely and Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys into the story, with the (purposefully) extremely hammy acting and (probably also purposefully) extremely amazing musical performances of the actors and actresses on stage.
Also, they had the guts to throw in The Monster Mash. You can’t do anything other than respect that.

Aside from Return to the Forbidden Planet, DIMF has many other great musical experiences to offer, so if you needed a push to go check it out consider yourself pushed!

[Also, I totally ran into some other Tourism Agency bros when I went there so we took a pic]

[Also, I totally ran into some other Tourism Agency bros when I went there so we took a pic]

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This entry was posted on 30 June 2015 by in Korea and tagged , , , , .

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