Broadway Musical

Musical KPOP Is Now On Broadway

The saying of ‘There’s more to K-pop than just Gangnam style’ has recently become sensationalized at New York’s Broadway scene. With music composed by Helen Park, choreographer Jennifer Weber spins the dancers and singers into a new kind of art.

Kpop Musical Broadway Success Launch Starring Luna. Music Press Asia
  • KPOP Launched 18 Broadway Debut
  • KPOP musical began its preparation 8 years ago, now launches on New York’s Broadway
  • A Technicolor bilingual concert and musical theater

KPOP, according to the official synopsis, “is the story of global superstars putting everything on the line for a special one-night only concert, when one singer’s inner struggle threatens to dismantle one of the biggest labels in the industry.

Pulsing with infectious beats, electrifying choreography, and breathtaking joy, KPOP is an all-consuming multimedia experience that explores the relentless discipline, raw talent, and commercial ambition behind the heart-thumping international phenomenon.”

KPOP composer Helen Park was born in South Korea and loved K-pop as she was growing up. She’s the first Asian woman songwriter on Broadway and has created all the electronic backing tracks, which a small offstage band plays along with. Park says the score reflects the wide variety of K-pop styles.

Park’s goal, back in 2014, was to “break the stereotypes and show K-pop as it is to me, and share that with the American audience”. That hasn’t wavered, she said, “but I do think that the society changed”. When she mentioned her Korean heritage to Americans in 2014, many people would respond by asking about North Korea.

This was before BTS became the biggest band in the world, before the crossover success of megawatt girl group Blackpink, before Parasite’s Oscar win and the popularity of K-dramas such as Squid Game, Crash Landing on You and It’s Okay to Not Be Okay brought Korean content into the English-language mainstream.

“I think the world is ready for a K-pop musical. This is obviously a creative result of a fantastic genre which began its worldwide startdom two decades ago. We hope they will make plans to tour Asia-Pacific very soon,” said Monica Tong, editor-in-chief of Music Press Asia.

The musical features a book by Jason Kim with music and lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon. The cast includes Luna, Julia Abueva, BoHyung, Major Curda, Jinwoo Jung, Jiho Kang, Amy Keum, James Kho, Marina Kondo, Eddy Lee, Joshua Lee, Jully Lee, Lina Rose Lee, Timothy H. Lee, Abraham Lim, Kate Mina Lin, Aubie Merrylees, Min, Patrick Park, Zachary Noah Piser, Kevin Woo and John Yi.

KPOP, directed by Teddy Bergman and choreographed by Jennifer Weber assisted by MJ Choi, is produced on Broadway by Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes.

KPOP: The Musical” is currently playing in New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre.

Helen Park at KPOP Openining. Photo by Emilio Madrid. Music Press Asia
[Helen Park at Opening night of KPOP. Photo by Emilio Madrid]

Watch the KPOP opening celebration and red carpet interviews with BroadwayWorld’s Richard Ridge, here.

KPOP first opened Off-Broadway for its 2017 world premiere at Ars Nova. Ma-Yi Theater and the Woodshed Collective also contributed to bringing KPOP to the stage, and the musical ultimately took home three Lucille Lortel Awards (including Outstanding Musical), the 2018 Richard Rodgers Award, and an Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Unique Theatrical Experience.

As the shows open to many amazing reviews, KPOP musical also recently demanded apology after ‘racist’ New York Times review. In his review, Green said that Jiyoun Chang’s lighting design was “squint-inducing,” which the producers called a “harmful stereotype.”

The global hallyu – the Korean wave of cultural products from music to movies, food to skincare – changed the context for a standard New York theater audience, as well as an American cultural reckoning over diversity on stage and authenticity of storytelling. Broadway has historically not been fair nor welcome to representations of Asian Americans.

kpop musical broadway facebook page. Music Press Asia
[KPOP The Musical on Broadway Facebook profile]

On the forthcoming album (scheduled for release in 24 February 2023) from Sony Masterworks Broadway, listeners will be able to follow along as fictional K-pop girl group RTMIS, boy band F8, and solo artist MwE come together for a one-night-only concert while facing a variety of personal and cultural challenges that threaten one of the industry’s biggest music labels.

KPOP — which opened November 27, 2022 — tells the story of three different groups participating in a one-night-only documentary about KPOP.

KPOP is now playing at York City’s Circle in the Square Theater.

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