Off-Broadway's COOKIN' NANTA Now Playing in Manila
Videography and additional Report by Kim Ji Hee
Manila, Philippines--It was only a week ago when seemingly bottomless bowls of kimchi rice served atop the piping hot grill tables of KPub BBQ at Bonifacio Global City became the perfect prelude to an exclusive press preview for COOKIN' NANTA (Korea's longest-running non-verbal theatrical production), which had four chefs chopping happily and haplessly away in a 15-minute excerpt.
Dubbed as "the first Asian musical of its kind" to hold regular performances at the New Victory Theatre on Off-Broadway from 2003 to 2005, COOKIN' NANTA's kitchen antics reinvigorate its 2015 bid to infiltrate more Asian markets. COOKIN' NANTA makes a limited run at The Theatre in Solaire Resort and Casino from Tuesday, November 10, through Sunday, November 15.
All Foodie Puns Intended
Completing the slice-and-dice-happy crew of chefs in COOKIN' NANTA are Jeong Bo Ram (Hot Sauce), Chang Kyoung Soo (Sexy Guy), Nam Dong Hoon (Nephew), Ko Chang Hwan (Head Chef), and Hwang Yo Han (Manager).
"It's easy for us to jump from one role to another, even if it's in a different touring crew," shares Ko Chang Hwan, who, interestingly enough, has eight solid years of experience working in a real kitchen as a professional chef, before he was "Nanta-fied."
"But you should know my cooking is very yummy!" he adds in a refreshing comedic boldness, a statement one would not expect from his timid Head Chef character.
"There are nine Nanta crews performing all over the world right now," he says, adding how COOKIN' NANTA's kitchen knives have never dulled, not even for a bit since its well-received premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival almost two decades ago.
"But I'm happy to say that we're the best among all the teams!" he answers--sitting upright as he gestures to his cast mates--when asked how many of those nine Nanta crews he has been a part of.
"All the 'chefs' in those crews are like one big happy family," he continues.
Bulalo Over Bulgogi
Special Nanta-dedicated theatres--with three of its kind originally established in Korea, and endorsed by the Korean Tourism Board--have also become a tourist attraction in Bangkok, Thailand. A similar facility is expected to open in Guang Zhou, China this January 2016.
"Yes, COOKIN' NANTA features Thai food in its performances at the Bangkok Nanta Theatre," says Nam Doong Hoon, explaining how Nanta-dedicated theatres make it a point to localize some of the elements of the show.
"If we were to feature a Filipino dish in a Nanta show, we would make bulalo instead of bulgogi," he continues laughing, fondly recalling his first taste of the native Philippine dish.
"Nanta is a very fun show. It's something everyone will enjoy," Jeong Bo Ram pipes in, adding how a lot of amusing things always happen in Nanta's steamy kitchen, especially when naughty cooks are striking relentlessly to put together a wedding reception.
COOKIN' NANTA opens with three cooks who are about to start their day. As they go through the preparations of their kitchen work, their manager shows up and barrages them with menus in preparation for an unplanned wedding party. On top of this surprise, the manager brings his reckless troublemaker nephew with him and demands the cooks to teach his nephew how to cook.
For tickets, call TicketWorld at (632) 891-9999 or visit ticketworld.com.ph.