KPOP has announced that it will play its final Broadway performance December 11. The musical opened at Circle in the Square Theatre November 27 following the beginning of previews October 13. While in previews, the show cancelled multiple matinee performances. As of the final performance, the musical will have played 44 previews and 17 performances.
The final performance will be dedicated the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community. It will be a special event featuring a panel discussion that will celebrate and reflect on AAPI representation on the Broadway stage. Panelists include David Henry Hwang, the first Asian American playwright to win a Tony; KPOP's own Helen Park, the first Asian female composer on Broadway; Korean playwright Hansol Jung; and Pun Bandhu of the Asian American Performers Action Coalition. 200 complimentary tickets are being offered to community members for the performance, which is supported by The Asian American Foundation with Gold House, Asian American Performers Action Coalition, and Ma-Yi Theater Company (which co-produced the premiere of KPOP Off Broadway).
News of the closing is unusually abrupt, and follows public discord between the show's company and New York Times theatre critic Jesse Green, whose negative review was described by KPOP's producers as "casual racism." The show has struggled at the box office throughout its run, both before and after Green's review was published.
Despite the closing news, KPOP will still live on musically. The show has announced that an original Broadway cast recording album from Sony Masterworks Broadway will be dropped February 24, 2023. Renowned music producer Harvey Mason, Jr. will produce the album, combining his theatrical and K-Pop backgrounds.
Bringing the music and world of K-pop and Korean culture to Broadway, KPOP follows fictional K-pop music superstars (solo artist MwE, girl group RTMIS, and boy band F8) as they risk everything for a one-night-only concert while facing personal struggles that threaten their careers. KPOP makes history as the first Broadway production to feature Korean stories written by Korean American creatives; its 18 Broadway-debuting cast members are all of AAPI descent.
Luna plays MwE, while Min, Kate Mina Lin, BoHyung, Julia Abueva, and Amy Keum star as members of RTMIS. Playing the members of F8 are John Yi, Kevin Woo, Eddy Lee, Joshua Lee, Abraham Lim, James Kho, Jiho Kang, and Zachary Noah Piser. Luna, Min, BoHyung, and Woo all arrive on the Broadway stage with career experience as K-pop musicians. Rounding out the cast are Aubie Merrylees, Jully Lee, Major Curda, and Jinwoo Jung, with Marina Kondo, Lina Rose Lee, Timothy H. Lee, and Patrick Park as swings.
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Teddy Bergman directs the production, which features choreography by Jennifer Weber, music direction by Sujin Kim-Ramsey, scenic design by Gabriel Hainer Evansohn, costume design by Clint Ramos and Sophia Choi, lighting designer Jiyoun Chang, sound designers Peter Fitzgerald and Andrew Keister, projection design by Peter Nigrini, hair and wig design by Mia M. Neal, and makeup designer Suki Tsujimoto. Cherie B. Tay serves as production stage manager, and casting is by Tara Rubin Casting.
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Conceived by Jason Kim and the Woodshed Collective, KPOP features a book by Kim with music, lyrics, as well as music, lyrics, music production and arrangements by Helen Park, and music and lyrics by Max Vernon. It 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.
For tickets and more information, visit KPOPBroadway.com.