‘KPOP’ composer Helen Park is 1st Asian woman to be nominated for Tony for best original score

‘KPOP’ composer Helen Park is 1st Asian woman to be nominated for Tony for best original score
bwaySHO, KPOP on Broadway
Carl Samson
May 3, 2023
Helen Park, the first Asian American female composer on Broadway, made history once on Tuesday after receiving a Tony Award nomination for “KPOP.”
Park was nominated for best original score, marking the first time an Asian woman has been nominated for the category. She received the nod alongside co-composer Max Vernon.

“A lot of us have been working on this show for eight years,” Park told The New York Times. “And for people to be recognized, it really feels like a celebration and recognition of the hard work that everybody put in.”
KPOP,” which ran on Broadway from November to December 2022, is a musical about K-pop stars preparing for their U.S. debut. The show was also nominated for best choreography and best costume design of a musical on Tuesday.
The Tony nominations mark a significant recognition after “KPOP” struggled with earnings and closed with only 44 previews and 17 regular performances. 
The cancellation triggered a backlash against New York City’s larger musical theater industry.
“I don’t feel defeated, I feel angry. I feel like we never got a fair chance,” Park told the Los Angeles Times in an earlier interview.
Ahead of the abrupt closing, cast members called out New York Times chief theater critic Jesse Green for describing the show’s lighting as “squint-inducing.” 
The term “squint” is often paired with “eyes” — hence, “squinty eyes” — to mock the eyes of Asian people.
“By using language in such a way as one of the many white, male gatekeepers of the Broadway world, Jesse Green cast a show of mostly Asian bodies as the ‘other,’” Abraham Lim, who made his Broadway debut in the role of Jae Ik, told NextShark.
“Reading such ignorance and seeing his language weaponized against even things like my mother tongue as a reason to deter people from seeing our show made me want to hold him accountable and protect us.”
Kim told the Times that she still struggles with the closure of the show. She believes everyone who came to see it really enjoyed it, and she “certainly won’t say no” if anyone wants to bring it back.
The 76th annual Tony Awards will be held at the United Palace in New York City on June 11.
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