Why K-pop stars could be like Nick Jonas and Ariana Grande and use Broadway as a path to success in the US

Asia's Tech News Daily

Hamilton, In the Heights, BTS, Blackpink, Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas

For years, K-pop stars have performed in musicals in South Korea. Now some are using Broadway as an alternative route into the American music market.

Luna (Park Sun-young), known primarily for her role in girl group f(x), will reportedly be joining the Broadway cast of KPOP, the Musical, which is based on the lives of the industry’s stars and executives.

The show’s website announced it was “coming to Broadway” and described it as an “exhilarating and euphoric” musical that “takes you inside the culture-shaking K-pop universe”.

KPOP, the Musical ran off-Broadway in 2017 and plans were hatched during the coronavirus pandemic for a Broadway production, with auditions taking place virtually.

Luna, who released her most recent single, Madonna, in October, has starred in numerous South Korean musical productions, including Legally Blonde: the Musical and In the Heights. If Luna’s debut proves successful, it may encourage other K-pop stars who have appeared in musicals to follow her lead.

Stars like California-born Tiffany Young, who recently starred in a Korean version of the musical Chicago, could go down a similar route. She has spoken of her aspirations to act in Hollywood, and could jump from the stages of New York to the silver screen.

Hamilton, In the Heights, BTS, Blackpink, Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas

Tiffany Young starred in a Korean version of the musical Chicago. Photo: Instagram

Musicals have regularly moved to the big screen, and many top stars, such as Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City fame, Idina Menzel, who voiced Elsa in Frozen, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created Hamilton and In the Heights, have been successful in both art forms.

Musicals may also be an opportunity for Asian-American artists who have failed to carve out a career in Hollywood to move into the American music industry instead.

K-pop is on the up in the American music market, with BTS being named artist of the year at the 2021 American Music Awards this month, but there is still a long way to go. Unless you’re a member of BTS or Blackpink, a successful K-pop career in the US is unlikely. But musicals could be the gateway to new opportunities if stars are given the chance to join New York productions.

It’s more typical for pop artists in the US to go to Broadway or to pen songs for a musical. Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas started their careers on Broadway, then made the switch. There’s no reason K-pop artists can’t do the same.

A musical demands different skills from its performers, and in Korea there is a stigma attached to K-pop idols joining musical productions. But if Broadway wants to tap into a promising talent pool, which will bring diversity and new fans to its productions, then K-pop may be the answer.

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