Kim’s Convenience Returns to the Grand Theatre
Playwright Ins Choi to star as Appa for the first time in show’s history
Written by and Starring Ins Choi
Directed by Esther Jun
On the Spriet Stage
October 17 – November 4, 2023
Opening October 20
Season Sponsor: BMO
Title Sponsor: BlueStone Properties
October 11, 2023 – London ON – After leaving London audiences in stitches in 2013, Ins Choi’s Kim’s Convenience returns to the Grand Theatre’s Spriet Stage from October 17th – November 4th to open the Theatre’s 2023/24 Season. The 90-minute production features Esther Jun (who originated the role of Janet) as Director and playwright Ins Choi (who originated the role of Jung) as Appa – the Kim family patriarch – for the first time.
“I could not be more thrilled that this season, programmed by my predecessor the incredible Dennis Garnhum, begins with Kim’s Convenience by Ins Choi,” exclaims Grand Theatre Artistic Director, Rachel Peake. “I first experienced this show when it was already a hit at Soulpepper Theatre Company in 2012. The theatre was packed with people from so many different communities, age groups, and walks of life. The place crackled with excitement. The meaning of that moment was profound – a communal event, live performance, igniting so much in so many people. Over a decade later, I am confident Grand patrons will too feel the pull of this magnetic moment.”
Kim’s Convenience tells the story of Mr. Kim, a first-generation Korean immigrant, a father of two, and the proud proprietor of Kim’s Convenience for the past 30 years. After building his empire from nothing, the stubborn Mr. Kim grapples with his changing Toronto neighbourhood, and the growing chasm between him and his second-generation children. In this heart-warming and hilarious story, audiences will follow the Kim family as they tackle their challenging past and look to face an unknown future.
After originating the role of Jung at the Toronto Fringe Festival, and reprising that role at the Grand in 2013, Ins Choi returns to the Theatre to lead the production as Appa for the first time. Choi is joined by a cast of four celebrated Canadian actors, who all make their Grand Theatre debut. The cast comprises: Emeka Agada (Alex and various roles), Vicki Kim (Umma), Leon Qin (Jung), and Kelly J Seo (Janet).
Making her Grand Theatre debut as director of Kim’s Convenience is Esther Jun. Joining her on the Artistic team is Julia Kim (Set and Costume Designer), Maddie Bautista (Sound Designer), Amanda Lin (Assistant Director), and Jareth Li (Lighting Designer) – who designed the distinct lighting for the Grand’s production of Controlled Damage in January 2023.
After seeing previous productions of Kim’s Convenience with hyper-realistic sets, Jun and Kim designed the Grand’s set as a stylized greyscale – with pops of colour and a sizeable array of convenience store items. In addition to making the cast and props stand out, the design inspiration is a nod to the character of Janet and how she – as a photographer – may have remembered and portrayed the store through abstract photo memory.
Notable Korean-Canadian playwright, Ins Choi penned Kim’s Convenience in 2011 to premiere at the Toronto Fringe Festival on July 6, 2011. It instantly became a sensation and sold out its seven-show run – with Jun playing the role of Janet, and Choi directing, producing, and portraying the role of Jung. Subsequently, the play was adopted by Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre in 2012, becoming the most commercially successful production in the company's history. Since then, the show has toured theatres across North America, including at the Grand Theatre in 2013 and an off-Broadway run. The production also inspired the hit TV show bearing the same name, which Choi contributed to developing and writing.
After having been involved with the stage production for almost two decades, Esther Jun comments on its relevance and lasting presence, stating: “I think the simple genius of this play (and of any true classic) is that it will continue to resonate for different cultures, different ages, and different times in people’s lives. It’s a true generational play with so much heart, truth, and laughter. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.”
An advocate for expanding diversity in theatre, and creating roles for Asian actors to be seen and excel, Choi is thrilled to see his play open the Grand’s 2023/24 season. He states, “12 years ago, there was a desperate need for Asian artists to make new spaces for our stories to be heard because the main stream theatres weren’t listening. Lots has changed. Things are different now. Could more progress be made? Absolutely. But, for now, this is something worth celebrating.”
Kim’s Convenience plays on the Spriet Stage from October 17th – November 4th, 2023. Single tickets range from $23 - $93 and are available at www.grandtheatre.com, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the Box Office, 471 Richmond Street. Kim’s Convenience is the first production at the Grand Theatre to offer Canada Life Pay-What-You-Can pricing, presented on the Sunday, October 22nd at 2 p.m. performance. An Open Captioned performance will also be presented on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 2:00 p.m.
The Grand Theatre gratefully acknowledges Season Sponsor BMO and Kim’s Convenience Title Sponsor BlueStone Properties.
To learn more about the Kim’s Convenience, please visit: grandtheatre.com/event/kims-convenience. Additional facts, photos, and updates can also be found by following @thegrandlondon and #GrandConvenience on Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok.
The Grand Theatre wishes to acknowledge and honour the original stewards of the land on which our Theatre stands. Gratitude and recognition are extended to the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, and Lunaapewak peoples for preserving this land where we gather and create art.
About the Grand Theatre – World Curious. London Proud.
In the heart of downtown London, Ontario lies one of Canada’s oldest regional theatres and a leading cultural hub of today: the Grand Theatre. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Rachel Peake, and Executive Director Evan Klassen, the Grand proudly presents diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe – and around the corner – on its two stages. The not-for-profit theatre is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through its COMPASS New Play Development program. Further, it is an ardent supporter of educational programming, as demonstrated through initiatives like the High School Project and Subsidized Student Matinees. For more information, visit: grandtheatre.com.
For more information please contact:
Caitlin Core, Communications Manager
ccore [at] grandtheatre.com (ccore[at]grandtheatre[dot]com)
519-672-9030 ext. 266
When: Tuesday, October 17 at 1:00 p.m. (Cameras, please arrive at 12:30 p.m. to set up)
Where: Spriet Stage, Grand Theatre, 471 Richmond Street, London, Ontario
What: Kim’s Convenience photo, video, and interview opportunities for media
Alex & Various Roles - Emeka Agada
Appa/Playwright - Ins Choi
Umma - Vicki Kim
Jung - Leon Qin*
Janet - Kelly J Seo
* Fight Captain
Director - Esther Jun
Set & Costume - Designer Julia Kim
Lighting Designer - Jareth Li
Sound Designer & Composer - Maddie Bautista
Assistant Director - Amanda Lin
Fight Director - Anita Nittoly
Stage Manager - Peter Jotkus
Assistant Stage Manager - Kelsey Rae
Apprentice Stage Manager - Sydney Stobo