It’ll be a Surrey homecoming for actor Jimmy Yi when Kim’s Convenience plays the city’s arts centre this month.
On the Main Stage at Bear Creek Park, the Fraser Heights-area resident is Appa, or Mr. Kim, in a touring production of Ins Choi’s award-winning script, about a family-run corner store.
Kim’s Convenience was originally produced for the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival, several years before it became a hit on television.
On an Arts Club tour of Metro Vancouver, this month’s show is based on a Pacific Theatre 2018 production that earned Yi a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nomination for outstanding performance by an actor in a lead role.
In Surrey, the play is staged from Feb. 19 to March 1.
“I’ve never actually toured this show, so this will be the first time,” Yi said Friday (Feb. 7) during rehearsals in Vancouver. “Usually it’s been a fixed production at the same theatre, so this is a bit different for us.
“We’re really pleased with where it’s at so far, and we’ve only been back at it since Monday (Feb. 3).”
In addition to Yi, the five-person cast features Andrew Creightney (Rich/Mr. Lee/Mike/Alex), Howie Lai (Jung), Jessie Liang (Janet) and Maki Yi (Umma).
The story follows Appa, a Korean shopkeeper in Toronto’s Regent Park area, as he grapples with both a changing neighbourhood landscape and the chasm between him and his second-generation Canadian offspring.
The current touring production is directed by Kaitlin Williams.
“Having the opportunity to bring the show and Appa’s story to more communities is incredible,” Williams said in a press release about the tour. “For me, this is a story about reconciliation, sacrifice, and deep family love. It means so much to our cast and creative team and we look forward to sharing it with audiences again.”
Other member of the show’s creative team are Carolyn Rapanos (set designer), Jessica Oostergo (costume designer), Ted Roberts (tour lighting designer), Jonathan Kim (original lighting designer), Chengyan Boon (sound designer), Allison Spearin (stage manager), April Starr Land (assistant stage manager) and Soran Nakai (assistant director).
Yi has developed a special relationship with Kim’s Convenience, on stage and also on television.
In the TV series he has a recurring role as Jimmy Young, a character Yi described as “a chauvinistic rich guy who’s always getting under everyone’s skin, who always says the wrong thing and brags about how rich he is.”
Away from acting, the Korean-born, Cleveland-raised Yi is an associate pastor at New Joy Church, located on 104th Avenue in Guildford.
Yi said he enjoyed acting in college “a little bit,” but never really pursued it professionally because of his job as a pastor.
He has now been acting professionally for close to 14 years, with a couple of those spent doing Kim’s Convenience in one form or another.
“I have a long history with this show, for sure,” he told the Now-Leader last July, “and I would say I have a very unique perspective of it, because I saw the original, I’ve seen the Soulpepper version, which is the production of it after it was done at the Fringe in Toronto, and I’ve seen every other production of it since, because I was in it.”
In Surrey for a 13-show run, Kim’s Convenience opens on Wednesday, Feb. 19 with an offer to ticketholders to “relax, socialize, and enjoy complimentary appetizers from 6:30 p.m.” Other special performances are planned during the run, including First Friday (“enjoy dessert and coffee after the show—with a chance of actor sightings,” Feb. 21), Paint at the Play (childcare for kids ages 6 to 11 with an experienced visual arts educator, Feb. 22), a pre-show chat (Feb. 25), a Talkback Thursday session (“stick around after the show for a chat with the actors,” Feb. 25) and a VocalEye performance (live audio description for blind and partially sighted ticketholders, Feb. 29).
For tickets (priced from $29 to $49) and other show details, call 604-501-5566 or visit tickets.surrey.ca.
Next season, Arts Club Theatre Company will bring productions of Every Brilliant Thing, The Cull and The Birds & the Bees to Surrey Arts Centre. The three touring shows were announced Feb. 4 among several others to be featured during the company’s 57th season.
Details about the current Surrey Spectacular season of shows at arts centre are posted to surrey.ca.