Theater Adaptation of 'The Mission' Panned in Korea

Poor reviews plague the musical in Seoul prior to a European tour next year.

SEOUL -- The eagerly awaited musical production of the Oscar-award winning film The Mission has had an embarrassing world premiere in South Korea, with the producers apologizing for poor performances and set problems.

After a litany of complaints and bad reviews following its opening week in Seoul, producers hastily went into damage control mode and tried to revamp the joint Italian-Korean show to revive its chances ahead of a world tour.

"We apologize for the questions raised about the mishaps on stage during the debut show and the performance of the actors, which was due to their physical conditions," the Sang Sang Musical company said in a statement on its website.

The production tells the story of two missionaries doing volunteer work in 18th century South America.

The movie won acclaim 25 years ago for the acting of Robert De Niro and the music by Ennio Morricone, who has composed six new songs for the musical. Morricone's son Andrea is playing a prominent role as music director.

South Korean media reported that the ticket agency's review page and the official website's message board were taken offline, after what they said were too many posts criticizing certain religions during the multi-million dollar show.

The set changes were slow and unprofessional, along with some lighting problems, media reports said.

In a bid to save the show, which is directed by Roland Joffe, the production company made some changes to the international cast, including adding 15 more chorus members, as well as making changes to the set.

Ticket sales, however, are still going slowly, even at discounted rates, and customers have criticized its pre recorded music.

"The music sounded almost like it was from karaoke, and sometimes it would just stop abruptly," wrote one person on the production's website.

The Sang Sang Musical company, which invested nearly $11 million in the show, offered unhappy theatergoers free tickets to see it again, local media reported, saying this was a first for Korean theater.

A person who went a second time wrote: "We went to watch the show hoping that there would be improvement, but it was far below our expectations. We would like a swift refund."

The show is scheduled to run in Seoul until February 26 before embarking on a European tour in 2012. Reports say it is slated to debut on Broadway in two years' time.