New musical brings high-energy world of Okay-pop to Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) — There are some acquainted storylines in a brand new musical opening on Broadway — a singer and her relationship with the mentor who guided her; a newcomer looking for his place; younger ladies chasing their desires.

However they’ve by no means sounded fairly like this.

The worldwide sensation that’s Korean pop music is coming to heart stage in “KPOP,” opening Sunday on the Circle within the Sq. Theatre.

With an nearly solely Asian American and Asian solid, a lot of whom are making their Broadway debuts, the musical is about as a backstage take a look at some Okay-pop performers as they prepare for his or her debut present in New York Metropolis. Conflicts get away and get resolved, ending in a concert-like efficiency.

The present’s Broadway arrival has been a very long time coming for playwright Jason Kim, who first conceived of a mess around Okay-pop a couple of decade in the past and staged an off-Broadway model in 2017, with music and lyrics composed by Helen Park and Max Vernon.

Born in South Korea, Kim got here to the US as a baby, settling together with his household within the Midwest. Okay-pop has been a fixture in his life, as have Korean tv dramas. He additionally liked musical theater, particularly reveals like “A Refrain Line” and “Dreamgirls” the place the story is about what’s occurring behind the scenes.

“I like backstage reveals,” he mentioned. “Is there preventing happening in-between all people? Do all of them love one another? These are the questions that I requested myself.”

Within the preliminary stage model of the present, Kim was introducing the machine of Okay-pop to an American viewers largely unfamiliar with it; 5 years later, it’s been rewritten for a world the place Okay-pop musical heavy-hitters like BTS and Blackpink are pop chart mainstays, amid a slew of different Korean leisure in motion pictures and tv like “Squid Video games” rising in popularity within the U.S. as properly.

Again then, America “didn’t actually know what Okay-pop was, and so there was plenty of explaining that I needed to do. … This time round, I didn’t have to actually take the stance of getting to apologize for something or having to elucidate something, and simply let the story unfold,” mentioned Kim, a author in tv and movie.

He known as the timing “actually serendipitous.”

“It’s been actually profound and shifting really to look at the world shift on this means.”

A Broadway musical showcasing the sounds of Okay-pop is an indication of how “the U.S. is lastly catching up with what was already happening world wide,” mentioned Robert Ji-Music Ku, an affiliate professor of Asian American research at Binghamton College.

Okay-pop has been rising in reputation globally for the final 20 years, despite the fact that different makes an attempt to interrupt into the American market through the years haven’t met with the identical success till just lately, he mentioned.

“If there’s a spectrum of universality, Okay-pop is engineered to be as common as doable,” he mentioned.

Casting the present took about two years, Kim mentioned, with open calls each within the U.S. and South Korea. A few of these within the present have Okay-pop backgrounds, together with Luna, a former member of the group f(x), who performs the central character of MwE, a singer who has spent years working towards her desires and has come to a crossroads.

It’s a step ahead for Asian American illustration on Broadway, which issues a fantastic deal to Kim.

“That expertise exists, and so they simply want a platform,” he mentioned. “So it was actually essential to me to place these Asian individuals on stage and see them not enjoying the standard roles that they play, however enjoying rock stars, enjoying pop stars, dancing their faces off and performing their faces off and simply being spectacular.”

For her half, Park known as the expertise an honor.

“Okay-pop and Broadway have each been my ardour for a very long time; Okay-pop has been like consolation meals for me, and Broadway was my seemingly unattainable dream, given there haven’t been many Asian composers, not to mention Asian feminine composers that I can see and dream to be like,” she mentioned in an electronic mail. “To have the ability to convey one thing that seems like residence to me, to my dream stage, Broadway, seems like probably the most miraculous present that I’ll cherish for a lifetime.”

Kim mentioned it was additionally essential that the present consists of some Korean interspersed among the many English, each within the songs and the dialogue.

It’s “a approach to be actually genuine to the expertise of Okay-pop idols and Korean individuals,” Kim mentioned, mentioning that “after I communicate to my mother, I’m switching backwards and forwards on a regular basis, relying on what we’re speaking about.”

“The design of the bilingual nature of the present was very intentional.”

Clearly, a musical constructed round Okay-pop has a built-in base of potential viewers members. However Kim says there’s one thing for everybody, even those that have by no means heard a Okay-pop tune.

“Hopefully if we do our jobs proper, you’re watching a enjoyable musical with a bunch of nice Okay-pop songs,” he mentioned. “However actually what you’re getting as you permit the theater is a common story.”


Hajela is a member of the AP’s workforce masking race and ethnicity. She’s on Twitter at

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