Korean “cooks” who make veggies fly with their pounding sticks and dancing knives showed off their stuff for the first time in Manila on Tuesday night, with the premiere of Cookin’ Nanta at The Theater Solaire Resorts and Casino. From here on, it is scheduled for a limited nightly run until November 15.
Cookin’ Nanta or simply Nanta is an 18-year-old spectacle that premiered on October 1997 in the neighboring Asian nation. Unlike most traditional theater performances, Nanta abandons dialogues and interweaves “Samulroni”—the traditional rhythm and beats of Korea—with modern sounds and movements to create a unique but globally appealing show.
The production first gained international recognition when it premiered at the 1999 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and bagged that year’s Best Performance Award.
Nanta went on to become the first Asian musical to debut on Broadway in September 2003 at the New Victory Theatre on 45th Avenue, New York, and six months later also gained the reputation as the first Asian musical to be staged as a regular show at the nearby Minetta Lane Theatre.
Nanta’s story begins with three cooks—the timid “Head Chef” (played by Ko Chang Hwan), sexy and wild “Hot Sauce” (Jeong Bo Ram), and tough and powerful “Sexy Guy” (Chang Kyoung Soo). Just as they are about to start their daily kitchen grind, the snappy and picky “Manager” (Hwan Yo Han) suddenly bombards them with overwhelming menus for an unplanned wedding party. To top it all off, Manager brings in his reckless and troublemaker “Nephew” (Nam Dong Hoon) and demands the staff to teach him how to cook.
As the conflict progresses, the challenge is upon the trio to get everything done.
During Nanta’s press conference at Bonifacio Global City restaurant, its talented cast explained that apparently, a traditional Korean wedding indeed drives any cook crazy in the first place as the event entails a grand food menu. Appetizers alone demand at least 20 varieties.
Meanwhile, though memorizing lines for the show is the least of their worries, the actors went on to explain that the physical demands of their roles more than make up for the mental challenge. Moreover, there is also the regular encounters with cuts and minor injuries from using real knives during rehearsals.
By the numbers, Nanta turns out to be even more impressive. Since 1997, it has had a total of 31, 580 performances and a total of 10,153,999 audiences based on its January 2015 tally. Now with these whopping digits also come a whopping number vegetable, knife and cutting board consumption as the show’s main props. They have since gone through 315,800 cucumbers; 126, 320 onions; 315,800 carrots; 221, 060 cabbages; 18, 975 knives; and 2,070 cutting in the same time frame.
According to its team, what the Filipino audience can look forward to besides the catchy beats, rib-tickling humor and amazing tricks is the opportunity to participate in the show. How so? The story’s bride and groom is nightly chosen from the theater, and therefore get to experience a traditional Korean wedding ceremony, as well as compete in a dumpling challenge and interact with the cast.
Cooking Nanta is produced by Concertus Manila .For more information call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.