The November Playbill for Broadway's KPOP is special. Though the opening night Playbills feature three different covers honoring the show's various characters, it's what lies between the covers that may surprise audiences. In a rare occurrence, this Playbill is bilingual.
KPOP began previews October 13 at Circle in the Square Theatre (where it will open November 20), bringing the music and world of K-pop and Korean culture to Broadway. To reflect the musical and its international cast, the title pages are presented in both English and Korean.
Helen Park, who co-wrote music and lyrics for the show, shared with Playbill, "Our show KPOP is bilingual, just like how so many K-pop songs are both in Korean and English. Music, particularly pop music, transcends language, I believe, and has the power to bring people from different languages and cultures together. And that is the essence of our show."
Continues Park: "As someone who grew up in both Korea and America, I've always had this pressure to conform to one language and culture or the other. There were less opportunities for both very different cultures to coexist in perfect harmony, and I think K-pop music and culture has created this magic where you feel that it's okay to be bilingual. It's okay to express your emotion through music, whether it be with English or Korean lyrics, or both. I found this quality of K-pop music to be so warm and welcoming. My hope is that whoever comes to see our show, whether it be Korean and American, or anyone from any culture, can feel included, seen and welcomed for who they are, and feel the array of emotions and story that music communicates to all of us.
"To honor all of this, it felt right to include both English and Korean title pages in our Playbill."
Conceived by Jason Kim and the Woodshed Collective, KPOP features a book by Kim with music and lyrics by Park and Max Vernon, as well as music production and arrangements by Park. It made its world premiere at Off-Broadway's Ars Nova in 2017, winning three Lucille Lortel Awards including Outstanding Musical.
KPOP follows superstars, one solo artist and two music groups, who risk everything for a one-night-only concert as they face personal struggles that threaten their careers.
And as a special treat for fans, the show has three covers for the musical's November Playbill. Solo artist MwE, played by K-pop singer Luna, stars on one cover in a cloud of red fabric. Before Luna was an idol for the K-pop group f(x), she performed in musicals in Korea including Legally Blonde. She now makes her Broadway debut as a fictional K-pop singer battling with industry executives.
READ: From K-Pop to KPOP: Luna’s Worlds Collide in Her Broadway Debut
KPOP features a fictional K-pop girl group RTMIS. Originating the roles on Broadway are Min, Kate Mina Lin, BoHyung, Julia Abueva, and Amy Keum. Abueva reprises her role from the Off-Broadway Ars Nova production of KPOP for her Broadway debut. Min, Lin, BoHyung, and Keum are also all making their Broadway debuts.
Like Luna, Min and BoHyung arrive on the Broadway stage from the K-pop world; Min is a former member of girl group Miss A while BoHyung previously performed as a part of SPICA. Along with another former SPICA member, BoHyung is now one half of the K-pop duo KEEMBO.
Rounding out the trio of covers is one of the show's fictional boy band F8. John Yi, Kevin Woo, Eddy Lee, Joshua Lee, Abraham Lim, James Kho, Jiho Kang, and Zachary Noah Piser play the roles.
Eddy Lee and Piser have both previously graced the Broadway stage. Lee served as a replacement in Hamilton as part of the ensemble and a swing, for the roles of Samuel Seabury and George Eacker, and as an understudy for Alexander Hamilton. Piser made his Broadway debut as a replacement for the role of Boq in Wicked before joining the cast of Dear Evan Hansen where he served as a replacement understudy for the roles of Evan Hansen, Jared Kleinman, and Connor Murphy. He later served as an alternate for Evan before a history-making run as the first Asian-American to play the role full-time on the Broadway stage.
Two actors who are also returning to KPOP after previously starring in the Ars Nova production are Yi and Kang. Both are making their Broadway debuts alongside Joshua Lee and Kho, as well as screen actor Lim (Clickbait, The Boys) and Woo, who is a former member of K-pop group U-KISS.