KPOP opened on Broadway to mixed reviews. Those who’d been lucky enough to witness the immersive Off-Broadway production found the remaking for Broadway lacking. Less of a jukebox musical than a concert, they found very little in the way of connective tissue between the story and the songs. Fans of the K-pop genre will at least be happy with the vocals and chroeo, although they might be better off saving their money to see the real idols instead.
New York Times Review of KPOP
[I]t’s true that if you enjoy the precision-drilled dancing, meticulous melisma and auto-tuned sentiments that have turned K-pop into a worldwide sensation over the past 10 years, you are likely to be among those cheering the musical’s Broadway incarnation, which opened on Sunday at Circle in the Square. But those who aren’t hard-core fans of the genre or don’t understand Korean — let alone those who saw the radically different and far superior Off Broadway version in 2017 — will have a harder time enjoying this one. For them, the musical is less an eye-opener than an ear-pounder, assiduously drowning out any ambitions it may once have had to be more.
Variety Review of KPOP
K-pop, the genre, is as contagious and deeply human as it is cold and calculating. “KPOP,” the musical, understands that, bringing to Broadway a rousing portrait of the minutiae of the industry, from its personal struggles and vexing complexities to its infectious musicality. With mega-watt set design, exquisite choreography, a show-within-a-show storyline and a score that sounds more like a Spotify playlist than a conventional musical’s tunes, “KPOP” is elegant, energetic, and exceptional. It’s a cleverly playful dramedy wrapped around a concert and stuffed inside the enigma of what it means to want fame – badly – then get it, with all its risks and losses spilled onto the stage.
TheaterMania Review of KPOP
Pop music is a business. So is Broadway. The people who work in both fields might say a lot of high-minded things about dreams and art, but the end goal is to turn a profit. So one might assume that the meeting of Broadway and Korean pop music (one of the most rigorous and lucrative industries of its kind) would make for a happy marriage of super-talented realists who understand the mission brief. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with KPOP, the new musical at Circle in the Square that invites audiences to the American debut of a Korean pop label. … Sadly, the Broadway transfer has mostly resulted in a flattening of the story. … Part of the magic of the off-Broadway run was the feeling of overhearing private conversations and seeing unrehearsed moments as we explored a Korean pop factory. … Here, we see all and come to realize that there’s not much play there. Musically, however, KPOP has never sounded better. … There’s not a weak link in the cast, which features some of the best vocalists and dancers on Broadway right now.
The Daily Beast Review of KPOP
KPOP is an important show—both in terms of Korean/Asian representation on stage and off, and in the audience. Significant parts of the show are spoken and sung in Korean. The audience for KPOP is a visibly, welcomingly mixed one, both in terms of age and ethnicity. … Two distinct strands emerge during KPOP. One is an amped-up music and dancing extravaganza, which when it really takes light is visually and aurally exciting (the boy band’s “Shake It” is a total thriller near the end). Leaning into its concert heart, the show relies on the smooth execution of its songs. … In contrast, its attempt at drama feels like meager filler, and unconvincingly glued on to the more music-y musical the production seems to be straining to be. In its current form, KPOP feels like a concert at its heart, rather than a musical with an engrossing story.