Other times, it is so predictable you know what is going to be said verbatim before a syllable is even uttered. Nowhere is this more obvious than the scenes where Harry tries to get each of the acts to turn on Ruby, and later, to pit them against each other. And even then, there is no new territory covered here, either. MwE (a very winning Luna, a real-life K-Pop star) has no self-esteem and fears disappointing her boss when she wants more than superstardom, while the girl group (woefully underused here) begins infighting over whether or not they should quit just before their years of work are about to pay off, and the 8 member boy group (F8 - get it?) are pissed because a new member has been added when another quits. Brad is already as great as the rest of them, and the others resent him for "skipping to the head of the line." (In a rare clever bit, they try to be really angry because he is actually American, and it turns out a few others are Americans, too, but have gotten by acting like they really only speak Korean.) There's a little more to the plot, but why ruin it all for you? You probably can guess it all, anyway.
Fortunately, the best moments happen between the silly book scenes. Some are visual. Gabriel Hanier Evansohn's scenic design is mostly made up of video/light panels and strategically placed TV screens, allowing for smooth transitions between backstage scenes and "in concert" numbers. He makes great use of the odd space, making it feel both like a traditional theater space and a concert arena. Similarly, the costumes, by Clint Ramos and Sophia Choi, straddle both the "real world" and the K-Pop machine - the finale costumes are pretty spectacular. All of that said, the technical star of the show is the spectacular lighting - designed by Jiyoun Chang - and the breathtaking floor projections - designed by Peter Nigrini. It really is a shame that something that looks so good is otherwise so poor.
Where KPOP really shines is in the dance numbers created by Jennifer Weber. The routines are dazzling in their precision and evolution of movement formations, and the hand/arm choreography is pretty clever, too. These numbers are also obviously where the company feels most confident - their swagger is intoxicating. It probably shouldn't be a surprise that these numbers are so good, since the cast is stacked with actual K-Pop stars. Another thing that elevates the numbers is the strategic use of Korean lyrics (Helen Park and Max Veron), lending a sincere authenticity to it all. (One wishes some of the English lyrics weren't so awkward - "This is my Korea" rhymes with "This is my story-ah.")
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