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EMK to remake musical 'Sister Act' for Asian tour

Aug. 15, 2023 - 16:08 By Park Ga-young
Actors perform during the Korean tour of "Sister Act" in 2017. (EMK)

The musical adaptation of “Sister Act,” based on the hit 1992 film of the same title, will be produced for an Asian tour under the guidance of South Korea's EMK Musical Company.

Known for its success in turning international productions into popular musicals here, EMK now aspires to expand its scope by creating productions for a broad audience, its producer said on Monday.

The musical “Sister Act” was produced by American actor Whoopi Goldberg and premiered at Pasadena Playhouse in California in 2006. During its Asian tour that visited Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, China and South Korea in 2017, EMK was in charge of the performances.

“I thought the story of (Sister Act) was great and the audience really loved it. At the time, however, we thought we could create something even better,” Kim Ji-won, CEO of EMK International, told reporters during a press conference on Monday.

EMK International CEO and Producer Kim Ji-won (left) and director Robert Johanson pose for a photo during a press conference on Monday at EMK's headquarters in southern Seoul. (EMK)

This production brings together a blend of Korean and American talent, including the cast from both Broadway and South Korea and director Robert Johanson, who has collaborated with EMK since 2007 on various productions.

“The talent here in Korea is beyond anything anywhere else in the world. I fell in love with their work ethic, and I fell in love with the emotionalism that they bring to the stage,” he said.

“Honestly, I would love the rest of the world to know how high the level of musical theater is in Korea, just like they know about K-pop and the Olympics. The musical theater (here) is still somewhat a secret to the rest of the world,” he noted.

Since 2007, Johanson and EMK together have produced eight musicals including “Rebecca,” “Elisabeth” and “The Man Who Laughs.”

Many of his musicals in South Korea are celebrating their 10th anniversary, a testament to the fact that they have moved audiences time and again, Johanson said, expressing his confidence for the new rendition of “Sister Act."

"'Sister Act' is a very entertaining show with sexy gangsters and singing nuns. But at its heart, it's very, very touching because it's about sisterhood. It's about a community of people supporting one another. It touches me deeply and I hope we can also bring that to the stage with this production," the director said.

In addition, creating an international tour team in South Korea instead of bringing an international show all the way from the US, UK or Australia, has the advantages of reducing costs and saving time, Kim said.

“The more we thought about the advantages, the more I was convinced to do this business. I thought it’s a great time to show the world what South Korea’s musical industry is capable of,” she said.

“Sister Act” by EMK will be premiered on Nov. 23 and run until Feb. 11 at D-cube Arts Center in Seoul, after which it will embark on an Asian tour.