Asia News: GMG Productions, Sejong Center, Queen + Adam Lambert & More

– Carlos Candal

GMG Productions To Bring Theater To Asia
A new Southeast Asia theater company headquartered in Manila has been launched by Carlos Candal, the founder of Global Marketing Group. The company, called GMG Productions, will endeavor to present the world’s most successful theatrical productions in various venues throughout Southeast Asia, according to
GMG Productions has already attracted investment and partnerships from all over the world, including Crossroads Live and its London-based affiliate David Ian Productions, which is an international producer and presenter of “first-class musical theater productions,” as well as one of the largest providers of theatrical content for the Asian and mainland China markets, including recent international tours of “Cats,” “Chicago,” “Evita” and “The Bodyguard.” Candal will head the new company from his office in Manila. 
Global Marketing Group is already one of the world’s largest theatrical merchandise companies, having provided merchandise for the West End, Broadway, many international touring companies, and even for global music artists like Eric Clapton, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber. Such services include print, web and merchandising expertise and the supply of novelties and promotional goods. Global also runs several retail websites to help sell its products and novelty ranges directly to end users.
Other GMG Production partners include Robert Sewell, founder of TicketWorld, who has lived in the Philippines for 30 years; Richard Lewis of Limelight Production, a leader in world’s children’s theater; Len Gill of Canada’s largest ad agency, Echo Advertising, and Noel Hayden, a leading international tech entrepreneur.
In a statement, Candal said, “GMG Productions’ core vision and mission is to bring top quality theatrical productions to Southeast Asia. Having been actively engaged in business in Asia for the past 30 years, I’ve seen the live entertainment market evolve significantly. This is an exciting opportunity to establish a new presenting company with David Ian and Bob Sewell to bring the highest caliber shows to the region with our combined, long-standing relationships with the world’s leading theatrical producers.” 
Candal adds that he predicts he will sell “over $50 million worth of tickets in the next 5 years.”

Seoul’s Sejong Center Opens Up To Pop, Snacks, Phones
The Sejong Center for the Performing Arts is one of Seoul’s oldest music auditoriums and was built expressly for classical music. 
It wasn’t until 1983, five years after the center opened, that it held its first pop concert, with singer Patti Kim, an event that was strongly opposed by classical musicians who claimed that the concert hall was not designed for “commercial arts.”
According to the Yonhap News Agency, the barrier to pop gradually eroded over the years as more popular singers and blockbuster musicals were presented at the Sejong Center. 
Along with this, a policy to allow patrons to bring refreshments into the venue, including alcoholic drinks emerged. Last December, attendees of a series of Introduction to Indie Music concerts were permitted to bring bottles of beer to the center to drink while enjoying the performances.
In 2020, this policy will be fully embraced, with sales of popcorn and wine during certain events. The dispensation will even extend to smartphones. During a live concert related to a popular online game, patrons will be encouraged to leave their phones on so as to participate in the interactive performance. 
An official of the Sejong Center told Yonhap, “We want to help people enjoy quality performances in a more relaxed environment.”

Queen and Adam Lambert
Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP
– Queen and Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert, left, and Brian May of Queen perform at the United Center on Friday, August 9 in Chicago, Ill.

Queen + Adam Lambert Announce Pop-Ups
In conjunction with Queen + Adam Lambert’s sold-out Rhapsody tour of Japan in late January, four pop-up stores will be opened from Jan. 11—25 on the premises of various regional Tower Records stores. 
The merchandise is, of course, Queen-related, including a Japanese translation of a memoir by Freddie Mercury, as well as special Japan-only recordings of the group and Mercury’s solo work.
In addition, a new Queen Greatest Hits collection, put together especially for the tour, will be released this month. The song selection was the result of fan balloting. 
“Bohemian Rhapsody” was the highest grossing movie in Japan in 2018. 
Casino Scandal Engulfs Prominent Politician
A leading politician with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan was arrested Dec. 25 on suspicion of receiving about 3.7 million yen ($45,830) from a Chinese company that wants to be involved in the country’s planned casino gambling scheme. 
Tsukasa Akimoto, who was the government’s vice-minister in charge of promoting the establishment of casino gambling in Japan, allegedly received cash, plane tickets and hotel rooms from the Chinese group, called 
Given that the majority of Japanese surveyed disapprove of legalized casino gambling, the arrests are seen as a major blow to the government’s push to set up so-called Integrated Resorts. 
Akimoto has maintained his innocence, though at least one other lawmaker has confessed to receiving bribes. 
In subsequent weeks, several other LDP lawmakers have also been investigated for receiving money from the Chinese group, which is headquartered in the city of Shenzhen, where it runs an online casino business. The company is also suspected of smuggling millions of yen in cash into Japan without declaring the money to customs. 
Three years ago many overseas casino operators were keen to get in on the ground floor for Japanese gambling, but with the government taking so long to devise regulations and choose locations, some of the appeal has worn off. 
Bloomberg has reported that many have become discouraged with the approval process, which takes much longer than it does in other countries. At least one company, Caesars Entertainment Corp., has already pulled out of the bidding process.

Of Monsters and Men were the big news at Airwaves 2019
Ásgeir Helgi
– Of Monsters and Men were the big news at Airwaves 2019
Lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir

Of Monsters And Men Cancels Asian Tour
The Iceland folk-pop band Of Monsters and Men have called off their Asian tour due to illness, according to the Singapore website Coconuts. 
The band was scheduled to play Jan. 14 in Hong Kong followed by shows in Taiwan and Singapore. 
A concert in Bangkok on Jan. 12 had already been cancelled, and the group was also scheduled to play Japan on Jan. 20-21. 
The Tokyo show was sold out. Details of the medical emergency haven’t been made public, but apparently one of the group’s members was hospitalized in Bangkok. 
“We are gutted to announce that we are unable to play the rest of our Asia tour due to illness,” said a statement on the band’s social media account. “This isn’t anything that rest won’t cure, but doctor’s orders are just that—rest for the next few weeks. We have all been so looking forward to playing these shows. This is not an easy decision to make.”