A story about a girl who loved writing poetry and dreaming, one day gets married, struggles to get along with her mother-in-law and meets her unfortunate fate when she is assassinated. This is the story of Elisabeth. Elisabeth the musical retraces 100 years of history, depicting the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (also known as “Sisi”). The production underscores her tragic life, at times stifling and isolated in the palace, as opposed to the beauty and glamour of royal life. Elisabeth playwright Michael Kunze once revealed that he learned the true face of Empress Elisabeth through her diaries.
From Death, which leads Elisabeth and others to their demise, to the narrator and Elisabeth’s assassin Luigi Lucheni, the gorgeous and grandiose music to songs such as “I Belong to Me,” “The Last Dance” and “Milk (Milch),” along with the recreation of Austrian aristocratic architecture all add to the visual and audible appeal of Elisabeth. The musical depicts Elisabeth as a childish adolescent who becomes a young bride head over heels in love, and eventually, a middle-aged woman who has lost her will to live. The actress who plays Elisabeth comes alive and withers on stage, fully embodying her character. Actress Ock Joo-hyun is a safe choice, and has never sat out on any of the Korean productions of Elisabeth, including the first run in 2012, followed by 2013 and now, 2015. In other words, there is no thespian in Korea that has lived as Elisabeth more often than she has. When you hear Ock singing “I Belong to Me” in the first act, you feel her evolution from a lovely young lady to a dignified empress. Archduchess Sophie is played by Lee Jung-hwa, who gives vivacity to the character, while Baek Hyeong-hoon, pulls off the role of Elisabeth’s son, Emperor Rudolf, without a hitch. However, Death has a weaker presence in this year’s production than in the past.