'Midnight Sun' Taking Live Theatre To Another Level
Updated: Sep 26, 2021
New Korean musical Midnight Sun (태양의노래), based off the 1993 Hong Kong film, premiered in April 2021 with a star-studded cast of K-pop idols including SHINee’s Onew, Day6’s Wonpil, Got7’s Youngjae, NU’EST’s Baekho and Lovelyz’s Kei. The musical tells the story of 18-year-old Haena, who cannot be exposed to sunlight and spends her days playing her guitar under the moonlight and watching 18-year-old Haram from her window as he meets his friends to go surfing. The sweet romantic story, beautiful vocals and stunning set aren’t what make this musical unique, however. For the first time ever, this musical’s live performances are being broadcast around the world every day with live English and Japanese subtitles for global audiences to watch.
A musical being broadcast live is a rare event in and of itself, let alone every single show in a musical’s run being available to view internationally with live translations. For the first time ever, Kwanglim Arts Center is using automated robotic cameras to stream the shows and capture audience responses, with different camera angles and views of each performance, making each viewing experience unique. This technology is a first for musical theatre, which has been critiqued in the past for its accessibility, ever since live streaming became a possibility. Midnight Sun has demonstrated that not only can live theatre be accessed from anywhere globally, but that it can even be accessed by those who don’t speak the same language.
The live viewing experience makes you feel as though you’re actually in the theatre, and those who are able to see the show in person get the same live theatre experience that they’ve always gotten. The show has even been live streamed to theatres internationally, with special live greetings from the cast following the performance. Tickets for the show can be purchased online through MetaTheatre, and then the audience are admitted into the live viewing page around thirty minutes before the performance begins. This means that the show is not only earning money from those seeing the show in person, but is also earning money through virtual viewing. This allows the show to reach a wider audience, especially since Korean shows are less accessible in the West. Since the show is so easy to access, MetaTheatre is actually offering ticket packages, allowing audiences to buy tickets to five or ten showings of their choice for a discounted price.
The show is worth viewing more than once, due to the rotating cast playing each role, showing off different charms and dynamics each night. For K-pop fans, it’s worth seeing the show multiple times so they can see the different idols playing the lead role of Haram, or even just to see their favourite idol’s performance improve over time. Got7’s Youngjae and Day6’s Wonpil made their musical acting debut as the lead role of Jung Haram, so their fans have been keen to see their confidence grow as the run of the show goes on. I personally have seen multiple virtual performances of the show to see the different casts perform, and I was impressed by all of their vocal and acting abilities. Each actor brings a different personality to the role, whilst staying true to the heart of the story. As I viewed the actor’s second performances of the show, they were still relatively nervous, but I’ve heard a lot of fans since then state that they have grown more confident in the roles and begun ad-libbing every night. I plan on watching the show again for its last performances, and I’m looking forward to seeing the difference in the actor’s abilities from the earliest showings. The cast seems to have also grown much closer since the start of the show, creating a deeper chemistry on stage each night.
The music throughout the show is beautiful, with each cast member’s voice matching the songs perfectly as they give incredibly emotional and believable performances. The cast album is still being released, with a different song from the show being uploaded onto streaming platforms sequentially. Each cast member’s versions of the songs are also being uploaded, since each rendition is so beautiful and distinct. The set design is very simplistic but stunning; a chic balcony overlooking a staircase, with an LED screen setting each scene throughout the show. Lighting is used to show the transition from night to day as the pair’s worlds overlap and pass each other throughout their story in a beautifully realistic manner. This simple design is very effective, as the set is stylish and plain enough to be the backdrop for a variety of locations, with the LED screens behind the set doing all of the work.
Midnight Sun tells the story of two 18-year-olds; Haena, who spends her nights playing guitar under the moonlight and her mornings watching Haram, a warm-hearted boy who loves to surf, as he waits for the bus with his friends from her bedroom window. She finds herself drawn to his cheerful and sweet nature, but is unable to talk to him. As she cannot go out in the sun, she spends her time longing to have a normal life, going to school with her friends and spending her days on the beach, and wondering what kind of person Haram is. Whilst out playing her guitar one night, she bumps into Haram and their wholesome love story begins as he comes to visit her when the sun has gone down. The show tells the story of first loves, platonic love, familial love, and not taking what you have for granted. Midnight Sun is hopeful, heart warming and emotional, with the cast bringing these sweet characters to life with their own unique charms during every performance.
Midnight Sun is being performed until July 25th at the Kwanglim Arts Center in Seoul.
Virtual tickets for live streamed performances of Midnight Sun can be purchased with English and Japanese subtitles from: https://metatheater.live/live/list.do