Asia News: Osaka NYE Bash Sellout, Loud Park Returns; Korea: Theatre Rebounds, Wavy Baby Lineup; China: Singer’s COVID Controversy
Universal’s New Year’s Eve Bash Sellout
Universal Studios Japan, located in Osaka, stopped selling Party Passes a day early to its No Limit! Countdown 2023 on New Year’s Eve, because the number of tickets reached capacity. No tickets were available on the day of the event.
It was the first time USJ held its holiday event in three years, due to the COVID pandemic. No Limit gives the chance to experience “the whole year of the Park in one night” during an event that lasts 26 hours – from Dec. 31 at 7 p.m. to Jan. 1 at 9 p.m.
In addition to the new Super Nintendo World, the event featured “character interactions, entertainment offerings, dance parties, and, of course, the countdown to welcome 2023,” according to the park’s website. Nevertheless, some regular attractions would be closed on Jan. 1 for regular maintenance.
Loud Park Returns
Japan’s Creativeman Productions announced the return of its signature metal and heavy rock festival. Loud Park will take place this year on March 25 at Intex Osaka and March 26 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, west of Tokyo.
In the past, Loud Park took place in the fall. So far, Creativeman has only announced the headliner, which will be Pantera.
The first Loud Park was in 2006 and eventually evolved into a two-day festival only in Tokyo. This year’s return edition will only be for one day, but it will take place in two cities.
Musical Theater Bounces Back
South Korea’s musical theater industry returned to form in 2022 with one of the strongest box office years in memory.
The Korea Performing Arts Box Office Information System, which keeps track of ticket sales data, said that revenues for all performing arts stood at about 545 billion won ($429 million) as of Dec. 28, according to the Korea Herald.
Of that total, 76%, or 415 billion won, was attributed to tickets sold for stage musicals, exceeding 400 billion won for the first time ever. This was only two years after ticket sales fell to 143.5 billion won in 2020. In 2021, musicals bounced back to 234 billion won.
The large number of musical productions staged in South Korea included new shows like “The Man Who Laughs” and “Death Note,” perennial favorites such as “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Kinky Boots,” and a number of foreign productions brought over to Korea, including “Notre Dame de Paris” and “The Lion King.”
Even the third quarter of the year, which is normally the slowest for the stage musical industry, performed exceptionally well due to a phenomenon called “revenge consumption,” which represented a large rebound in consumer response.
This response spurred the production of smaller, more adventurous productions of shows like “Frida” and “Showman” that featured new material but big stars who guaranteed high sales and repeat business.
Another reason for the jump in revenues was higher ticket prices. The ceiling for VIP seats was always considered to be 150,000 won, but that ceiling was broken this year when VIP seats for the foreign production of “The Lion King” went for 180,000 won.
In step, local productions of “West Side Story” and “Moulin Rouge” started charging 180,000 won for VIP seats. However, the most expensive ticket of the year was for Cirque du Soleil’s “Alegria: In a New Light.” The most premium seat for that production sold for 290,000 won.
The Herald says that 2023 will be marked by even more new local and original productions, including a musical about Beethoven.
Wavy Baby Sets Lineup
Dubbed the “Coachella of Southeast Asia,” the Wavy Baby music festival will take place in the Philippine city of Mandaue on Cebu Island Jan. 13-14.
The festival is being organized by Careless Music, a record label and entertainment company founded by the singer-actor James Reid, to coincide with the Sinulog festival, an annual event to celebrate Cebu culture.
The lineup, which was announced Dec. 17, will include artists from the Philippines, the U.S. and South Korea, including Pinksweat$, Sunmi, BamBam, Destiny Rogers, Reid, Ben&Ben, Franco, Urbandub and many others.
At the announcement event, the CEO of Careless, Jeffrey Oh, said, “We want to be international but still for the Filipinos.”
He and Reid estimated that 15,000 people would attend the festival over the weekend.
Oh insisted that all relevant safety measures would be followed.
“The whole layout of the festival is very well-designed so that the crowd is divided up very evenly and equally just so the flow of people is very logical,” Oh said. The CEO added that there would be three “platforms” for the performers.
Jay Chou Shows Panned
Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou’s hotly anticipated concerts on Dec. 17-18 at the National Stadium in Singapore were poorly reviewed by fans. Concertgoers complained online about Chou’s poor vocal quality and that the production used backup singers to cover for his shortcomings, as well as special lighting and special effects to distract the audience.
In addition, the shows started late and the singing was often interrupted by magic performances during long sections.
In the end, Chou seemed to sing as little as possible, according to a report in the Straits Times.
Another complaint said that the light sticks that had been given out to concertgoers were recycled from previous concerts, a charge the organizers later denied, though they did admit that some of the light sticks didn’t function properly.
Singer Details Attempt To Contract COVID
Popular Chinese singer Jan Zhang, also known as the “Dolphin Princess,” received widespread online criticism after she reported on her social media account that she had deliberately tried to contract COVID so that she could recover in time to be able to perform in concert on New Year’s Eve without fear of becoming sick.
Zhang wrote on her socials, then deleted: “I prepared for being infected. Then I began to catch a fever, my throat began to ache, my nose began to ache, my whole body began to ache, my head began to ache…before I finally fell asleep.”
Apparently, she had sought out “sheep,” a term used in China to refer to people infected with COVID, thinking that she could recover after a day or two and acquire immunity for her upcoming concert.
Zhang subsequently reported online that her symptoms disappeared after “sleeping a day and a night … I just drank plenty of water and took vitamin C.”
Critics pointed out that there was no scientific evidence that COVID could be cured by taking vitamin C and drinking lots of water. China has suffered a huge surge in cases since the government lifted restrictions.
Zhang’s behavior was seen to be reckless, with many saying that she “encouraged” fans to get infected.
Eventually, she apologized. “I worried that if I got infected when the concert was held, it would increase the risk of my colleagues being infected again,” Zhang wrote, “so I thought: Since it is inevitable, why not get ill now when I don’t have to leave home?”