Before attending the musical KPOP, I knew precisely two things about the musical genre it is named after: first, it is very popular. It wouldn’t be unfair to compare it to Beatlemania—its fans are not unlike the audience member in A Hard Day’s Night, who cries “George!” while tears stream down her face. Second: its fans sometimes fight white supremacy on social media.
The musical—with a book by Jason Kim and music and lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon, the former the first Asian woman composer on Broadway—is mostly a staged concert, with the thinnest of plots to thread the songs together. The Circle in the Square, on the smaller end of Broadway theaters, is the appropriate venue for the production. With only 840 seats, it suits this style, as was demonstrated before the pandemic with Oklahoma!
Whether or not you enjoy KPOP, then, will entirely depend on your opinion of K-pop, which seems to consist of dancy, anodyne love songs that appeal to the emotional concerns of pre-adolescents. This doesn’t limit the age of its fanbases, and at the performance I attended, a middle-aged man in the front row mouthed along to every song. This is to say, KPOP is one of those shows where reviews are almost irrelevant: you already know if you want to go.
KPOP runs through December 11th at the Circle in the Square Theatre. 235 W. 50th Street New York, NY. 2 hours 45 minutes. One intermission. Photograph by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.