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BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below

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BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below

One elegantly clad foot after another, the chic young woman climbed the steps to the stage of Feinstein's/54 Below, all eyes on her, for she was a vision of such breathtaking glamor that nobody could, nobody would dare look away. The sight of her elegant and sophisticated mode of dress gave off an impression that her opening remarks might resemble those made at a $400 a plate dinner benefitting an important charity. The hostess of the evening paused before beginning, smiling benevolently at the impressively full house of patrons that claimed every seat in the prominent nightclub. She spoke.

"This is my first solo concert in New York City... by the way, my name is Helen Park..."

And all watching and listening laughed with glee as the songwriter threw her head back with a winsome giggle. No. This was no stuffy event designed for fundraising; on this night 54 Below was going to party.

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below For her first solo concert in New York City, Helen Park gathered together some of the fiercest singers and dancers in the business of entertainment and she assigned each of them some of the most exciting songs a singer could hope to wrap their vocal cords around. If a party was what she wanted, then a party was what she got because for 60 rollicking minutes 54 Below was the place to hear the wild, upbeat, and jubilant songs from her award-winning musical K-POP, as well as music from Baked Goods and the upcoming musical Fifty First Dates. Aside from her compositions for these three musicals, Ms. Park debuted some of her new music, and she spoke openly about her life and her process in creation. Declaring the evening to be unapologetically bi-lingual "I'm bi-lingual, and I'm bi-cultural, and I'm bi-many things," Park showed all, right out of the gate, that she is fun, adventurous, playful, and that she has excellent comic timing. Then the music started and, song by song, she proved to the room that she has a substantial talent at songwriting - to say nothing of her own considerable skills as a singer. It would appear that Helen Park has it all: beauty, talent, fashion sense, humor, eloquence and a great set of friends who will jump at the chance to be there for her and to sing her music. There was a plainly visible deep affection and soul connection between Helen Park and many of the guest artists who helped to make her show one of the most entertaining, uplifting and enlightening shows seen on the cabaret stages of New York. It would be nice if the one-night concert could have been a run of shows because one wishes more people could be moved by the messages in Park's lyrics and the joy in her melodies.

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below By, first, showcasing her songs from her musical 50 First Dates, Ms. Park lured her audience in with songs created in the style of traditional musical theater, but with themes musical and lyrical of a decidedly modern slant. The numbers "A Date" and "Thank God" were enough to convince anyone that Helen Park is a musical theater composer of note, and enough to bring about the fervent hope that 50 First Dates will land, swiftly, on a stage in New York; and even though Remy Zaken, Jonathan Shew, and Nick Cartell join the growing list of concert performers who read their lyrics off of a music stand cheat sheet, at least they raised their faces often enough for us to see them, and added in a layer of acting with their stand-out vocals. Both 50 First Dates numbers were a solid hit for the evening.BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below

After 50 First Dates, though, things changed.

They got better.

Diving into the bilingual portion of the evening, Ms. Park introduced the song "This Is My Korea" as a segue into the K-POP segment of the concert, announcing that the show is being developed for Broadway, to tumultuous screams of delight. Her incredibly down to earth, refreshingly real, effortlessly funny personality lead the way into every number, as she discussed her life "I don't have a language of my own" and her art "The universal language IS music," while employing the talents of Joomin Hwang, Jiho Kang, Julia Abueva, Toren Nakamura, and John Yi to put K-POP up on its feet for a crowd that was about to get up out of their seats and begin dancing, especially when Nick Kim and James Kho joined the vocalists to add their ravishing terpsichorean skills to the proceedings. Between the music, the dance, the exhilaration of Park's enthusiasm, and the love that filled the room, it was easily the happiest place in NYC outside of the maternity ward in any given hospital - happy enough to make this writer simply overlook the number of artists reading their words off of lyric sheets. Helen Park In Concert was one of life's fortuitous choices for every person in that club.BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below

Particularly enjoyable in the concert were Janet Krupin, whose vocals (and dance moves!) were out of sight on "Wind Up Doll," Jason Tam, whose storytelling skills were unmatched on "All I Wanna Do," and special guest star Ashley Park, who ran over after a two-show day at GRAND HORIZONS on Broadway to slay a room full of people with an insane performance of "Bung Uh Ree Sae." Still, as wonderful as these three consummate performers were on Wednesday night, as accomplished as every singer and dancer was in this special event, the true star of the night was Helen Park herself, who has a very clear path to success ahead of her. Only a person with such obvious talents, such enviable style, such relaxed honesty, could so easily carry off a full-out K-Pop concert with a complete band, singers, and dancers, without once appearing to be anything but the calmest, coolest, chicest, young prodigy in town.

The Helen Park Band:
Piano: Sujin Kim-Ramsey
Drums: Hwanho Oh
Guitar: Haedong Yoon
Bass: Sang Ouk Jung

Helen Park in Concert was part of the ongoing series New Writers at 54! which showcases exciting work by today's hottest emerging voices, curated by Assistant Programming Director Alexa Spiegel.

Find Helen Park online at her website

Check out the 54 Below event calendar by visiting their website

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below
Helen Park, Julia Abueva, Jason Tam, Jiho Kang, Joomin Hwang, John Yi

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Janet Krupin

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below

Julia Abueva, Remy Zaken, Helen Park, Janet Krupin

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below

Toren Nakamura, Jason Tam, Jiho Kang, Joomin Hwang, John Yi

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Nick Kim

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below James Kho

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Jason Tam

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Julia Abueva

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Helen Park, Julia Abueva, Jiho Kang

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Helen Park, Julia Abueva, Remy Zaken, Janet Krupin

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Julia Abueva, Helen Park

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Helen Park

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Ashley Park

BWW Review: Audience Cheers NEW WRITERS AT 54! HELEN PARK IN CONCERT at 54 Below Photos by Stephen Mosher


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