Nanta - "Top 10 Things To See In Seoul"

A tip for you -- Do not miss South Korea's hit stage show "Nanta". It is entertainment packed with percussion and laughs and has built a reputation around the world.

"Nanta" refers to wild drumming, and this live show debuted in Seoul, South Korea in 1997. Amazingly, none of the performers speak. The communication to the audience is conveyed through action and traditional instruments of the samul nori, a percussion quartet.

There's the kwenggwari, which is a small gong, the janggu double headed drum, a buk drum and the large jing going. They also use anything else especially kitchen utensils that are considered handy for them to use.

The samul nori has its roots in nong-ak, the 'farmer's music' heard on the rice plantations, which serves to both ensure and celebrate good harvest for the South Koreans.

The Korean Tourism Board has designated Nanta as one of the Top 10 Things to see in Seoul.

This stage show focuses on the antics of three spicy cooks - Head Chef, Sexy Guy and Hot Sauce, and their manager in the kitchen. The theme sees them having to prepare a wedding banquet with only an hour notice and and on top of that their boss wanted his incompetent nephew to work with them in this hour of madness.

The stage is set for hilarity including flashes of 'cutting' drama, and the chefs proceed to use every kitchen utensil - pots, pans, dishes, knives, chopping boards, water bottles and brooms - as percussion instruments.

At the same time, they leap about acrobatically, do a few magic tricks, put on some pantomime and get the audience involved. The Head Chef's one-man show with the bucket, with his ridiculous facial expression is always a great laugh with the audience.

There are in fact two scenes which related to samul nori.The first is the prologue, which takes the audience back to olden times and a Korean kitchen before there was electricty or tap water. The second is a folk dance called the sangmo, in which the performer puts on a helmet-like hat with a long ribbon, also called a sangmo and swings his head around forcefully.

Fact: South Korea's most celebrated samul nori performer, Kim Dok-Soo, was invited by US officials to perform at the United Nations in New York.

The acrobatics and audience participation together with the magic and COMEDY in the Korean Wedding Ceremony will have you in rolling over in stitches of laughter. There is not only a great kung fu scene between Sexy Guy and the Nephew but the audience enjoy a great laugh at the expense of the audience participation as the bride and the groom in the show.

Along with Kim Dok-Soo's turn at the United Nation, Nanta itself has done well internationally. It was an audience favorite at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and in 2004, it became the first Asian Show to have an extended off-Broadway run.

Three different theaters have productions going and there is another on the resort of Jeju Island with long queues from both tourists and locals. To cater for the many shows, there are normally nine teams providing the five performers - Manager, Head Chef, Sexy Guy, Hot Sauce and Nephew - for each show.

The show involves lots of vegetables like cucumbers or cabbages being chopped and sliced and splattering everywhere but the real appeal of the show is the twists in the presentation like the moods that swing from calm to crazy - all within that short space of time ... Rave reviews all round!

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