Who needs drumsticks when an entire kitchen full of utensils can be used make a dynamic and creative percussion ensemble?
A group of chefs grab whatever they can get their hands on ― spatulas, chopsticks, ladles, brooms and even knives ― and chop, shuck and dice out sounds in a lively musical preparation of Korean food. This is “Nanta.”
|The final scene from “Nanta” (PMC Production)|
The nonverbal live musical “Nanta,” the creation of famed local actor and theater producer Song Seung-whan, has set a record as Korea’s longest-running performance show. Since the curtain was first raised on the show in October 1997, “Nanta” has been performed in 285 cities in 48 countries. With a largely international audience, the show keeps audiences engaged with its interactive storyline and choreography, rather than dialogue, and with vegetables and other stage props flying out at the audience. And after 16 years, the show still manages to attract hordes of tourists, selling out shows on a regular basis.
“The show was very funny and very interactive,” said Jose Martinez from Madrid on his first visit to Korea. “I will tell everyone back in Spain to come and see this show.”
Seeking to repeat the tremendous success of the play, which takes the art of cooking to new heights, Song has revamped another nonverbal musical production.
For those seeking a fast-tempo musical featuring an eclectic mix of light-hearted slapstick and audience participation, then the restless choreography of “Music Show Wedding” is just what the doctor ordered.
|Song Seung-whan’s nonverbal play “Music Show Wedding” is performed during the Edinburgh Festival earlier this year. (PMC Production)|
The storyline of Song’s latest nonverbal production is simple: A young couple is getting married, but the girl’s father does not approve. Although the musical complements the whimsical comic traits of “Nanta,” Song’s newest show puts a new twist on a traditional Korean premise and attempts to reach a broader audience, with a Western-style wedding as the backdrop to the story.
“Music Show Wedding” follows the two young newlyweds as they become caught up in a chaotic wedding reception while seeking the approval of the bride’s father. With a live jazz band and a talented cast, Song pulls out all the stops to find inventive ways of keeping the audience engaged. Every scene adds a new layer of creativity, with a xylophone showdown, a glass harmonica and even the introduction of triangle-shaped three-person piano.
Although the storyline and sets are quite unpredictable at times, the cast continuously encourages the audience to cheer them on and the energetic musical interludes have many in the seats singing along.
And of course, no true wedding story would be complete without a little striptease. So as the icing on the proverbial wedding cake, a male dancer even pops out of the cake and grinds and serenades his way into the hearts of the ladies in the theater with chorus line “I want a sexy wedding night.”
“I liked it very much. I think it is a very nice experience for foreigners in Korea because it was a very international performance,” said Eugenia Bellova, wife of Slovakia’s ambassador to Korea, last week after the show. “I think because of its combination of young people and Western features, it will become very popular in Korea.”
However, the show is not for everyone. At one point, the young couple sings Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” in jest to one another while having bubbles blown at them, before abruptly switching to Chan Romero’s “Hippy Hippy Shake,” accompanied a three-person guitar and breaking into desultory impromptu K-pop dance interludes. Scenes like this may leave some viewers disoriented by the frenzied stage activity.
Both “Nanta” and “Music Show Wedding” are currently open-run shows and can be seen every day at several locations in Seoul. For more information on tickets or show times, visit interpark.com.
By Julie Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org)