Interview: Awesome ‘80s Prom
The Korean cast of Awesome ‘80s Prom still apply the same rules
of engagement as the original New York production: present a show
that takes place at a public high school’s senior prom. The difference
between Awesome ‘80s Prom and a regular theatre piece?
The audience is part of the entire show, all night. No one
sits down. It’s not at a theatre; it’s at a club. The characters
surround the audience, dance and sing with them, force random
ticket holders to get up on the stage and take their
shirts off while doing a “sexy dance.” Really.
Prom has been making waves in the U.S. since its 2004 off-
Broadway debut at New York’s Webster Hall. Its popularity exploded when Dustin Diamond
(Screech of Saved by the Bell fame) joined the New York cast in May
of 2010. Casts have since sprouted up at venues in Boston, Chicago,
And now Awesome ‘80s Prom has parked itself at the King’s Club
Lounge in Itaewon, with a similar cast of outrageous (if not gregariously
stereotypical) characters to that of its New York predecessor.
While the show is in Korean (translated with English subtitles on
large TV screens) and doesn’t include all the ‘80s hits from the U.S.
show, the heart and humor still remain as intact.
Awesome ‘80s Prom plays every Saturday at the King Club
Lounge in Itaewon, Seoul. For tickets or more information,
call (02) 3471-8956 or (02) 3471-8958.
Groove recently sat down with actor Ha Joon-ho
(Dave, the Prom Emcee) to discuss the show.
How did you get involved with the Seoul cast of Awesome ‘80s Prom?
I worked with the director, Jong Hoon-lee, while I studied acting at
Chung-ang University. They have one of the best theatre programs
in Korea. He is a young director with a lot of passion and knowledge
for new theatre.
Is this your first experience with interactive theatre?
Yes. It’s a first-time interactive theatre experience for many Koreans.
The idea of an interactive show is a fairly new to Korean audiences.
Prom has a potential to pave the way for more interactive
shows to make a presence in the Korean theatre scene. Audiences
are still getting used to the idea of an interactive show. They’re very
used to sitting and not being involved.
What was it like for the first audiences who had no idea what they were
getting themselves into?
For the opening performance, we set up chairs. We were at a
space in Hongdae at the time. The chairs immediately filled. During
the show, the audience refused to stand up when we came to
interact with them. It was very difficult to get them engaged. So the
next night, we took out all the chairs. They were forced to stand. It
was very funny.
With such a new theatrical idea, how do you keep Korean audiences
engaged with the western idea of a prom?
There are no proms in Korea. For myself as the actor, I had to do
a lot of test runs to see what worked and what didn’t. I listed and
tried out every possible reaction in every situation my character gets
during the show. The ones that didn’t work out I don’t use. Marketing
has a huge say in how we sell the audience.
The show differs much from the U.S. versions in Boston and New York
I’ve seen. Why did you make so many drastic changes to the music?
Because Korean audiences do not understand the idea of a prom,
we have to keep them engaged somehow. We provide them with
music they know, although it may not be from the ‘80s. We have
some characters removed to the stereotypes Koreans are more familiar
with, while still trying to appeal to the Western audiences.
Why do you think Prom is working so well with both Korean and Western
Because it’s simple fun. We are here every Saturday to make you
laugh, dance, and sing.