Cooking up a musical masterpiece
Nanta, the South Korean musical comedy presented by the Consulate General, Republic of Korea at Shilpakala Vedika, turned out to be a fun entertainer for people of all ages. The performance had the audience in splits throughout the show, making it an evening of excitement and laughter.
Nanta is about three cooks trying to prepare a wedding banquet in limited time, while their manager enlists the help of his incompetent nephew. The best surprise of the show is that none of its actors are either qualified chefs or trained musicians. But the energy level displayed them onstage is amazing and they kept the audience guessing what would come next. Be it magic, martial arts, clown acts, comedy or pantomime, Nanta is an amalgamation of it all. Performed with informal precision, the show has successfully entertained over 10 million audiences in at least 58 countries worldwide. The rhythms, played by the actors using cooking implements like knives, demonstrated how music is universal as they even included strains of Indian classical music.
The show in Hyderabad was full of surprises, as the actors suddenly started using Telugu words like ulipaya (onion), aaru (six) and poh (go). In two acts, the actors stepped off the stage and selected members of the audience at random to involve them in the action onstage.
Junghwan Hyun, who played the role of the mischievous nephew, says “This production consists of traditional Korean music, food and martial arts. The preparation of the wedding cake is the main theme of this production.”
Hyejin Yun, the only female actor in Nanta, says, “I have been working in Nanta for eight years. One of my friends recommended that I join this great show. I have fallen in love with it. I always liked the musical part, in particular, since my young days. The harmony of the music and acting makes me feel alive and complete.”
Changhwan Ko, who plays the head chef, speaks about the difficulties of creating different rhythms with knives on a chopping board. “It’s very hard to play music on a cutting board. This is because knives are not real musical instruments. The way to play a rhythm here is totally different from any other musical instrument. That is why learning this takes at least six months of hard practice,” he says.
Yohan Hwang enacts the part of the manager, who pushes the team of chefs hard to meet their 6 pm deadline for delivering the wedding cake. Says Yohan, “I have been performing in Nanta since the year 2004. I joined it because I wanted to spread happiness to people around the world.”