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HomeMusicLuna and different Okay-pop idols come to Broadway : NPR

Luna and different Okay-pop idols come to Broadway : NPR

Korean pop star Luna involves Broadway in ‘KPOP’

Kevin Woo and the solid of KPOP

Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman/KPOP

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Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman/KPOP

Kevin Woo and the solid of KPOP

Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman/KPOP

The South Korean cultural phenomenon Okay-pop is now a Broadway musical – merely referred to as KPOP. The present is a form of MTV Behind the Music story a couple of fictional Korean label, RBY, presenting a live performance in New York Metropolis.

Shortly after the beginning of KPOP, the viewers is immersed in a high-energy efficiency of a music referred to as “That is My Korea.” A lady group with 5 singers, RTMIS (pronounced Artemis), sings in Korean as they arrive onstage. Swaying their arms and hips in synchronized, repetitive actions, the singers then change over to English, like in lots of Okay-Pop songs.

They’re adopted by a boy band with 9 singers, F8 (pronounced Destiny), doing the identical materials, however with macho, smoldering actions. After which all of them sing collectively, doing level strikes choreographed by Jennifer Weber, the place the performers make a “Okay” with their arms each time they sing the phrase “Korea.”

“That retains coming again to turn out to be a visible hook on the identical time that it is a vocal hook,” Weber mentioned.


KPOP is an unconventional musical – there are not any conventional solos or duets the place characters sing their feelings on to the viewers or to one another.

However director Teddy Bergman mentioned “That is My Korea” nonetheless features like an old style Broadway opening quantity.

“There are lots of methods wherein that music is like our model of ‘Custom’ from Fiddler [on the Roof]. It introduces a set of [characters]; a form of large thematic banner for the night,” he mentioned.

Off Broadway the present requested: “Why is not Okay-pop successful within the U.S.?” Now that is modified.

The present was initially carried out as an immersive off-Broadway piece in 2017, the place audiences went from room to room — seeing bits and items of rehearsals, auditions and recording classes — earlier than gathering collectively in a big area to observe a live performance. On the time, Okay-Pop hadn’t actually cracked the American cultural consciousness, past PSY’s monster hit, “Gangam Model.”

“The animating query of the present off-Broadway was, why has Okay-pop been profitable all around the world, with the notable exception of the US?” mentioned Bergman. “And blessedly, that that has modified over these 5 years with Okay-pop acts having fun with monumental and great success in the US.”

So the present manufacturing has switched issues up, immersing its viewers in dynamic performances of spot-on songs in several types, with outrageous costumes. Since it is a documentary-style story with flashbacks, the viewers will get a glimpse contained in the pressure-cooker Okay-pop manufacturing facility, the place performers are pushed to perfection, usually at private sacrifice.

“What I used to be actually concerned about, going into this, was the psychology behind a global star,” mentioned Jason Kim, the Korean-born writer of the present’s script. He says he makes use of some tropes from Korean tv melodramas. “What do individuals like BTS, what do individuals [like] CL… What does she assume when she will get up within the morning and what’s her everyday? And what’s it like earlier than she goes on stage and what does she consider her stage efficiency and the way does that have an effect on your relationships?”

Kim mentioned the present examines the dynamic between “this very Japanese idea of obligation that accompanies self-expression….What does it appear like when the 2 are in battle with each other? And so, to me, that actually is a thematic precept that ties all the things collectively.”

Luna stars in KPOP as a singer who just isn’t certain she nonetheless desires to be a star.

Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman/KPOP

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Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman/KPOP

Luna stars in KPOP as a singer who just isn’t certain she nonetheless desires to be a star.

Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman/KPOP

The present has a number of performers who’re precise Okay-pop idols, together with Luna, who performs the present’s star, MwE. Luna has additionally appeared in lots of musicals, like Legally Blonde, in Korea. Her presence lends an air of authenticity.

“She’s a type of individuals who has that very uncommon present of being virtually clear on stage,” mentioned Bergman. “You may simply learn all the things that is happening along with her effortlessly. And as a singer and dancer, she’s simply virtuosic.”

One of many present’s songwriters is Helen Park, who was born in South Korea and liked Okay-pop as she was rising up. She’s the primary feminine Asian songwriter on Broadway and has created all of the digital backing tracks, that are accompanied by a small offstage band. Park mentioned the rating displays the wide range of Okay-pop types.

“Each musical second is form of totally different from one another,” Park mentioned. “We now have ballads, we’ve got reggaetón, we’ve got new disco, we have progressive home. We have got all the things within the pop medium.”

As catchy because the music is, Max Vernon, who co-wrote the rating with Park, mentioned they needed the songs to mirror the emotional states of the characters.

One music, referred to as “Wind Up Doll,” is carried out by MwE, after she’s rehearsed with an abusive choreographer.

“That music is so sparkly, it is so effervescent. It places a smile in your face,” mentioned Vernon. “However if you happen to truly hearken to the lyrics, they’re fairly sinister. You already know, it is like, ‘You push the gear/contact me that means/You wind me up like clockwork/and I obey.'”

At instances, the viewers at KPOP behaves as if it’s at a live performance, not a Broadway present – individuals whoop and cheer and transfer alongside to the music.

“Okay-pop as a style and Okay-pop as a phenomenon I believe is so welcoming,” mentioned Park. “It is inclusive, it is inviting.”

Followers be taught Okay-pop dances from movies, then publish their very own variations on social media. Already, choreographer Jennifer Weber mentioned, among the musical’s followers are doing the identical.

“It has been so cool to see that in our viewers, to observe individuals already beginning to do dance covers of issues and to turn out to be followers of the teams [in the show].”

The present is at present in previews on Broadway — it opens Nov. 27.



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