BWW Review: The Messenger of Stars, SIDEREUS at Chungmu Arts Center, Black
The first half of 2019 was a rather interesting moment for the Korean theater industry. Three shows that dealt about Galileo Galilei - LIFE OF GALILEO, THE FINAL TESTIMONY, and SIDEREUS - were staged at the same time, and it led many Korean theatregoers to learn and understand more about Galileo Galilei's life.
SIDEREUS is a new original musical that started its development at the ARKO-KARTS Musical Academy in 2017. After its short reading performance in the ARKO-KARTS Musical Academy, it was selected by Chungmu Arts Center Black and Blue, the musical development program by Chungmu Arts Center. I was lucky enough to view SIDEREUS in 2017, during its ARKO-KARTS Musical Academy performance. Among the shows that I watched that day, SIDEREUS was the show that I wanted to see as a full production later on, so when I heard that SIDEREUS was going to be staged this year I was counting the days until the show opened.
SIDEREUS focuses on the letters that went back and forth between Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler. It is said that Johannes Kepler sent Galileo Galilei a letter asking if Galileo could help him on his publishing of 'Mysterium Cosmographicum', or the Cosmographic Mystery. Galileo replied that he could not help Kepler on that, but years after, when Galileo published 'Sidereus Nuncius', Kepler openly supports Galileo's theories. Based on these facts, Baek Seung-woo, the writer of the musical, creates a fictional story of what might have happened between these two points in history.
A major change that happened after the performance in 2017 is that there is a new character in the musical. While the ARKO-KARTS Musical Academy performance only had Galileo and Kepler on stage, Galileo's daughter, Maria Celeste appears alongside Galileo and Kepler in 2019. I think the addition of Maria Celeste shows the change in the minds of ordinary citizens in that era. How Maria Celeste first hesitates to answer the letter from the Roman Inquisition asking whether she knew about her father's studies, but later changes her mind and decides to support Galileo's path to become the messenger of stars - his study of astronomy - while she keeps her own path of being a nun in the show made me think that Maria's change of perspective represented how Galileo's constant inquiry for truth influenced other people of that time. Borrowing the words of the creative team, Maria acts as the receiver of the message that the 'Messenger of the Stars', Galileo and Kepler, sent.
The stage of Chungmu Arts Center, Black is transformed into a space that will lead the audience to experience a sensational journey to the days of Galileo and Kepler, and to the outer space that they observed. Chungmu Arts Center, Black has an unusual semi-circular stage, and in SIDEREUS, Galileo's room and Kepler's room are placed at the two ends of the stage. The back screen of the stage is used continuously throughout the show - sometimes showing the stars and the universe that Galileo and Kepler see through their telescopes, and sometimes showing a part of the stage live, with a camera that is placed at the ceiling of the theatre. Also, the whole theatre is filled with small lights that bright ups the theatre when Galileo and Kepler are observing the space, making the audience feel like they are in the space that Galileo and Kepler are observing.
Galileo's faith about his beliefs, with Kepler's charming letters constantly sent to Galileo about their study and observations are lovely enough to make this show a must-see. While Galileo first seems like a grumpy scientist who is stubborn, his pure happiness when he observes a new scientific order or when he finds out something new that could help him prove his theories portrays Galileo as an enthusiastic scientist who ceaselessly researched for the truth. This genuine character who continuously sought for evidence that could support his belief is played by Go Young Bin, Park Min Sung, and Jung Min. Kepler is depicted as a delightful character who has the persistence to continue on with his work even if the majority believes that it is wrong. Shin Sung Min, Jung Wook Jin, and Shin Ju Hyeop act out the sweet and passionate astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. Maria, who first could not understand her father's devotion for astronomy, but later on forgives her father and supports him, is portrayed by Kim Bo Jung and Na Hana.
This marvelous journey to the space with Galileo, Kepler, and Maria will be reached out to the audience as a gift until June 30th, 2019. The heartwarming story about three passionate figures trying to find the truth and pursuing their beliefs will linger on in the audience's minds even after they leave the theatre. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.globalinterpark.com. Tickets start from 11,000 KRW, and could also be bought at the box office of Chungmu Arts Center, Black. Make sure to check out the casting schedule prior to buying tickets, since the casting schedule changes every day.
SIDEREUS at Chungmu Arts Center, Black
Photo Credit: Rang Company