“Cookin’ Nanta” is a nonverbal comedy from Korea that makes use of kitchen tools as musical instruments. It’s like “Stomp”—but with knives.
The show has been running in South Korea since 1997, and has toured in over 250 countries. It even had a yearlong run in Broadway—a prestigious claim for an Asian production with no dialogue.
“Cookin’ Nanta” has become such a tourist favorite that four theaters in Korea run it exclusively, plus another one in Bangkok. It now adds Manila to that list, with “Cookin’ Nanta” set to run for eight shows at The Theatre at Solaire, on Nov. 10-15.
Concertus Manila is bringing the show to Filipino theater goers after staging big musicals such as “Wicked,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and, recently, “Singin’ in the Rain.”
The show tells the story of three cooks who have to cram for a big wedding after their mean manager (Hwang Yo Han) asks them to prepare a grand banquet—at a few hours’ notice!
To add to the frenzy, the manager’s mischievous nephew (Nam Dong Hoon) joins the kitchen to learn how to cook, thereby messing up everyone’s sync.
Together, they chop like mad, striking cutting boards with knives and using salt shakers as maracas—in effect, producing rhythmic, percussive sounds.
Head Chef (Ko Chang Hwan) oversees the cooking, while Sexy Guy (Chang Kyoung Soo) flirts with his paramour in midriff, Hot Sauce (Jeong Bo Ram), the only girl in the team.
At one point in the 90-minute program, they will pick the groom and bride from the audience, marry them off and challenge them to a dumpling-making contest.
The show is interactive and requires improvisation, something that the cast has mastered. This makes “Nanta” an entertaining family show, explains executive producer Bambi Verbo: “It is about movements and facial expressions that are easy to understand, but still entertaining to kids and adults alike.”
And just to be sure, a warning is made before the show cautioning the audience not to play with knives at home.
“Cookin’ Nanta” combines modern beats and Korean folk music (samul nori), with some slapstick and acrobatics to get the story across.
“Nanta” means “to strike relentlessly” in Korean, and the actors do exactly that, making festive music with striking stunts that require endless practice—and incredible biceps.
In fact, actor Ko Chang Hwan says it took them six months’ worth of training and several injuries to perfect the act. He and the rest of the Manila cast were introduced at the recent launch in K-Pub Korean restaurant in Bonifacio Global City.
Over a meaty lunch of bulgogi and samgyeopsal, we wondered if the Nanta actors would ever consider chopping meat for sisig or bopis instead of cabbages in the show. That would have given the show the ultimate Pinoy punchline, Nanta-style.
“Cookin’ Nanta” will have eight shows on Nov. 10-15, 8 p.m. (with 3 p.m. shows on Nov. 14-15) at The Theatre at Solaire, Aseana Avenue, Parañaque City. Tickets are sold at P600-P4,500, with 40-percent discount on weekday shows.Call 8919999. Visit www.ticketworld.com.ph; www.facebook.com/ConcertusManila.