November 29 was a day I had waited four months for; Ed Sheeran was to hold his Divide Tour in Seoul. I had my tickets ready, prepared to see him up close. However, some two weeks before the show, it was announced that the show was cancelled due to the artist’s injury. Devastated, I went off on a journey to console my sadness for the cancellation of the show I had waited so patiently for, and also to quench my thirst for a musical experience. A friend suggested Rebecca — a number one musical running for the fourth time in Korea. I was told that the show would not disappoint; the acting, the music, and the story were to be top notch. What’s more, the Sunday night shows were offered at a discount. This was it, I thought. Importantly, the show exceeded expectations.
Rebecca consisted of two acts, lasting three hours in total with a short intermission. Act I started with a backdrop that revealed a silhouette of a burning mansion. “I”, acted by Luna of f(x), appears on stage dreamily, singing the number “Last Night I Dreamt of Manderley”. It then goes into a flashback to the 1930s. A scene in a luxurious hotel appears, with cheerful numbers that introduce the atmosphere. There, “I” and her employer Mrs. Van Hopper appear amongst the busy people in the hotel lobby, where they chance upon the wealthy and recently widowed Maxim De Winter, acted by Ki Joon Um. Mrs. Van Hopper bursts into a comical number, and Maxim first meets “I” through this encounter.
“I” and Maxim meet again at the hotel restaurant, where “I” accidentally knocks a vase off Maxim’s breakfast table. Maxim, instead of becoming upset, invites “I” to breakfast at the cliff of Monte Carlo, and the two exchange a spark of affection. Back at the hotel, “I” learns that Mrs. Van Hopper has decided to leave for New York, and that “I” is to follow her immediately. “I” is devastated by the fact that she would not be able to meet Maxim again. However, Maxim appears last minute and indirectly asks her to stay. “I” does not understand until Maxim directly proposes to her, and the two get married.
“I” sets foot at Maxim’s Manderley mansion, and amongst the welcoming servants with their upbeat rendition of “Mrs. De Winter” encounters the distinctively hostile and overly formal Mrs. Danvers, featuring Joo Hyun Ok. The only thing “I” knows is the fact that Mrs. Danvers was very close to the previous Mrs. De Winter, Rebecca. The stage changes to the interior of the room that previously belonged to Rebecca, where Mrs. Danvers delivers an emotional number “She’s Invincible” while missing Rebecca’s presence. Feeling uneasy as an unworthy replacement for the allegedly beautiful and mysterious Rebecca but also wanting to settle in at her new home, “I” suggests to Maxim that she would like to host a banquet, continuing the tradition at Manderley. Mrs. Danvers gives a friendly suggestion for a dress. The dress is revealed to be of the same design as what Rebecca had worn before, and Maxim bursts into anger.
A similar series of commotion about Rebecca and her greatness — such as incidences whereby Mrs. Danvers bursts into song about Rebecca in the signature number “Rebecca” — runs throughout Act II, and “I” learns that there are still unsolved mysteries about Rebecca’s death. Determined to investigate it and clear the uneasiness that kept her from settling in completely, she hears the truth from Maxim, who offers a big, first twist to the audience. At this time, a body that resembles that of Rebecca is found and her death goes under reinvestigation. Maxim is called to court as a referral, and further investigations reveal Rebecca’s grand secret, a second twist that is bound to shock all. Mrs. Danvers, devastated by the truth, burns Manderley down. This scene is analogous to that of the starting scene, and sums up the performance by marking the end of a dark mystery and the start of happiness.
Though I have not revealed Act II in detail in order to avoid too many spoilers, Rebecca is sure to please a wide variety of audiences. It offers laughter, mystery, and great music. The fantastic performance by Mrs. Van Hopper, featuring Na Yoon Kim, was a show-stopper; her hilarious dance moves and witty expressions were backed with strong vocals that wowed the audience. Also, Ok as Mrs. Danvers showed off a perfect performance in her emotional numbers, with delicate expression and strong high notes that touched all. Her passionate performance had the audience on their feet after the show. A commendable performance by Luna and Um as “I” and Maxim respectively also played a big part in the story progression. There is a reason why Rebecca is back for its fourth run in Korea; it is bound to satisfy anyone who seeks an exciting musical journey.