EDITING : 2024.4.22 월 18:51
The Gachon Herald
Is She a Real Spy?The Powerful Re-leap of the Musical 'Mata Hari'
Choi Seh-min  |  cchloe1006@gmail.com
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Updated : 2022.09.28  14:29:58
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 Have you ever heard of the irresistible charming double spy, ‘Mata Hari’? She is known as a double agent who passes military information across France and Germany's borders during World War I. She was executed for spying on eminent citizens and high-ranking officers by prostituting herself. However, there is no clear evidence of this, and there is a story that she was a scapegoat for France’s failures during the war with Germany. Let’s get into the original beauty spy ‘Mata Hari’ who is veiled in mystery.

History of the Musical
 The musical premiered on 2016 at Bluesquare Interpark, the subsequent production opened in 2017 at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. In 2022, the third production opened at the Charlotte Theater, and the significant point is that this is the first time to play an original musical at the Charlotte Theater. The plot of the premiere and revival runs are all completely different, and the supporting roles are all different except for the main trio, Mata Hari, Amand, and Colonel Radu. The contents of the musical have also changed a lot. The most different thing is the characteristics of the characters. In the premiere and subsequent, Armand was the character who planned to seduce Mata Hari by taking the order of Colonel Radu. But in the third play, Armand's love for Mata Hari is genuine. In addition, the unmarried Colonel Radu and the addition of Mata Hari's childhood narrative were modified, the description of each person became detailed and the relationship of the main characters was emphasized. The musical ‘Mata Hari’ maintained the strengths shown by the previous runs and added specific narratives to meet high expectations.
The life of a woman with two names
 The life of ‘Mata Hari’ can be regarded as miserable. Her real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, born in the Netherlands. Margaretha was her father’s favorite, he showered her with extravagant gifts. However, her father went bankrupt and her mother died when she was young. From this moment, her tragic and miserable life begins. After seeing the advertisement, she marries Rudolph McLeod, a soldier in the colony, but her marriage is tragic and her son passes away.
 If Margaretha is unhappy or directionless, Mata Hari is a spy who seduces men with beautiful dances. As a beautiful spy during World War I, who is hiding her past and making a reputation as a dancer, is miserable. After being arrested and shot by French authorities on the suspicion of the double agent, her body was sent to the Anatomy Museum. Even her head has been stolen and has not been found until now. According to British World War I documents, there is no clear evidence that she was a German spy. Many question marks hang over her death even now.

The musical’s plot
 The story begins at the Musée d'Anatomie de Paris. In the 37th year since Mata Hari's death, her head was to be unveiled. However, her head disappeared without a trace. Time goes back to the day when Mata Hari first came to Paris. Anna finds Mata Hari who was about to drop from fatigue in the lively city. Anna takes her home and helps her warm up. Anna designs stage costumes, and when she saw Mata Hari’s dance, she helps her to become an exotic dancer. Inspired by the dance of Java women, she named herself ‘Mata Hari’ and starts to live a new life. Anna takes her home and helps her warm up. Stage costume designer, Anna helps her to become an exotic dancer. Inspired by the dance of Java women, she named herself ‘Mata Hari’ and starts to live a new life. Successfully living the second part of her life, she meets Armand, a pilot with free spirit. Now she knows what true happiness is, but soon after, World War I begins and shakes up her life. France forces her to spy for France as she could cross borders amid the ongoing war thanks to her connection to high-ranking officials in different European countries. She refuses to do so at first but takes part in espionage activities in Germany, in the end, to reunite with her lover Armand, a French pilot who was hospitalized in Germany after taking on a risky mission. By delivering a ballpoint pen that tapped the German defense minister, she finds Armand. However, she is suspected of being a double agent for crossing the border using the name Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She composedly faces the tragic end of being accused of working as a double agent between Germany and France.
The musical’s set and staging
 As the winner of the stage art award, with its colorful stage costumes and cutting-edge sets, the musical is a visual treat. The colorful and intense stage emphasizes the contrast with the tragic reality, further maximizing the pain and emotion of the war era. More than 200 costumes were made to revisit the Belle Epoque era. The ever-changing stage increases the immersion of the work. The large set, which reaches three floors high, rotates 180 degrees and depicts various places in narrow stage space. The set enhances the view by transporting the women in the romantic city of Paris and the soldiers in the harrowing battlefield trenches.
 The character added in the third production is Margaretha’s dancer. This character represents not only ‘Mata Hari’ but also Mata Hari’s young alter ego. The young Mata Hari, who is called by her real name Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. This character visualizes her emotions with sleek dance moves, sharing the storms and vicissitudes of her life. The reason why the young girl never grows up shows that the dancer still has not completely overcome the pain of her tragic past. This new character helps the audience better understand Mata Hari’s psychology.
 The story of a woman's narrative is also the strength of the musical, but other factors that make the stage shine more are Mata Hari's dance and song. When the curtains go up at the start of Act 1 and Act 2, Mata Hari begins dancing. Every move she makes shows us her eventful and exhausting life that deepens her narrative. When you think of musicals, acting and singing will be the first thing that comes into your mind. However, this musical reminds fascinating dances.
 Many people are touched by the story of a woman who did not lose her confidence in a tragic life, and the story is continuously receiving a lot of love. The musical ‘Mata Hari’ reasonable transformation makes audiences look forward to the performance coming up. ‘Mata Hari’ back in five months is a powerful re-establishment and I wish this musical to be loved by the audience for a long time. 


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