Over the holiday season, premium streaming platform LIVENow announced its latest addition to its streaming repertoire, a military musical called Meissa’s Song. It was announced back in September 2021 in commemoration of the Republic of Korea 30th anniversary since joining the United Nations. A tale about unity, aspiration, and perseverance.
At the helm of Meissa’s Song, this adventurous synthesis of musical styles past and present, are musical theater director Lee Ji Na, music director Kim Moon Jeong, and composer Woody Pak. Meissa’s Song benefited from director Lee Ji Na’s extensive experience. Over the span of her illustrious career, Director Lee staged several hits and achieved numerous awards with her most notable works including Gwanghwamun Sonata (an original Korean musical) and Jesus Christ Superstar, while music director Kim Moon Jeong’s creative fingerprint is stamped on successful licensed productions of Les Misérables, Mama Mia!, Evita, Rebecca, and many more. The soundsmith who wove together threads of pop, classical, and traditional music too create the emotional journey through joy and despair is Woody Pak, well known for Waikiki and The Devil (더 데빌).
Military musicals are known for the casting of K-Pop talent, and Meissa’s Song is no exception with headliners of some of K-Pop’s biggest superstars, EXO’s Park Chanyeol as the lead, Laman, and B.A.P’s Jung Daehyun and INFINITE’s L (Kim Myungsoo) both as Jun Seok. Set in South Korea and the fictional country Khamur, where an ongoing civil war is occurring, the storyline follows the journey of a Khamur-native, Laman, who travels to South Korea. Not only does he chase his dream of becoming a K-Pop idol, but he also searches for his inspiration, Meissa, the soldier who sparked his passion for entertainment, colliding the two worlds and cultures. When Laman was young, a Korean dispatch soldier gave him hope and pushed him to follow his dreams, despite going through hardships in Khamur. Laman secretly named the soldier, Meissa. Music director Kim Moon Jeong and composer Woody Pak brilliantly wove the melody and harmony together to convey Laman’s pain and determination as he pursues both his dream and Meissa during a powerful duet between him and his younger self.
Recurring flashbacks that pair Laman with his younger self evoke feelings of hope, sadness, and nostalgia during Laman’s treacherous journey in search of the South Korean dispatch soldier. Both past and present run parallel onstage as present Laman strives to become an idol while searching for Meissa, and young Laman finds joy in music despite difficult circumstances in his own country. During one particularly poignant moment during Laman’s past, children of Khamur run into stationed Korean soldiers on break from battling in the ongoing Khamur civil war. Although strangers, the two groups of people connect and find joy during difficult times by singing and dancing to “Heartbeat” by 2PM. The emotional respite from the fighting enjoyed by both soldiers and children was broken by the sorrow of Zahara’s little brother – to sing and dance while the people of Khamur are suffering is considered disrespectful. Although the soldiers sympathized with the boy, they shared their belief that music is the light at the end of the tunnel: “Beauty, joy, excitement, comfort, happiness, fun, and beautiful emotions, that’s what art does…No matter how brutal reality is, art has the power to make you dream.” Their words and the interactions of the characters spoke of joy and despair, and the ability to find pleasure in something even during strife.
Although Laman’s journey is harsh and full of suffering, director Lee Ji Na still managed to weave in feelings of hope in her direction of the musical. After Laman uncovers information about Meissa, a flashback reveals when Meissa saves Laman from a kidnapping. As the scene comes to the end, Meissa guides young Laman through a tunnel towards the light, towards hope. At the same time this memory plays out on one side of the stage, present Laman watches it wistfully, feeling the guidance of someone who truly cares. In continuation of this feeling, K-Pop survival show director Eun Ah, Meissa’s loved one, sings a beautiful, tearful ballad with a memorable melody that explained Meissa’s memory lives in her heart. During this poignant solo sung downstage, Laman discovers Meissa’s location upstage. The staging highlights the gleeful moment while also wrenching heartstrings. Coming to the end of the musical, EXO’s song “Growl” was remixed and performed on a musical stage showcasing Laman won the K-Pop survival show and is now embarking on a new journey as an idol.
Laman’s journey to find Meissa reflects the power of culture and music. Emotions are made palpable by the casts’ and crew’s phenomenal performances and efforts. Emotions are made palpable by actors’ and actresses’ phenomenal performances. Due to the popularity of the musical, it was recently announced that fans can buy tickets for Blue Helmet: Meissa’s Song. The musicals have the same plot, just different cast members. Although viewers won’t be able to see Meissa’s Song with the full original cast, Park Chanyeol of EXO will still be shining on stage with actor Jang Ki Yong. If you are interested and in South Korea, Blue Helmet: Meissa’s Song will be shown from March 18, 2022 to May 8, 2022 and you can buy tickets on https://ticket.wemakeprice.com/. For those not in South Korea, hopefully there will be an online version dropping soon.