Three Korean musical comedy stars have played the role of Cohan in the well-received Korean production of Chip Deffaa's "GEORGE M. COHAN TONIGHT!" The photo at right shows playwright Deffaa with producer Hansaem Song at the opening night in Seoul, Korea. (The show was produced by Hansaem Song / Showfac Inc., with the support of Don Kwon / Michigan Venture Capital.) This 2007 production, which ran for several months, was in Korean. In 2016, Deffaa brought Jon Peterson (star of the original Off-Broadway production) to Korea, for a production in English. (For details on that production, see the page "'Cohan' in Korea--2016.)
Chip Deffaa (at right) with Hansaem Song, producer of the Korean production of "George M. Cohan Tonight!"
The Playbill for the Korean production of "George M. Cohan Tonight!"
Dynamic Korean musical star Im Chun-gil, pictured in action in scenes from the show, above; and, with playwright Chip Deffaa, after the opening-night performance in Seoul, at left.
The photos at right and immediately below show Min Young-ki, who placed more of an emphasis on his singing skills than his dancing skills when he played Cohan in Korea.
Some Korean audience members saw the show three times, to see all three different stars interpret the role of Cohan.
The photo at left shows a thoughtful Ko Young-bin preparing to sing "Life's a Funny Proposition After All," while seated atop the piano in "George M. Cohan Tonight!" in Korea.
(Korean production photos courtesy of Hansaem Song / ShowFAC Inc.)
Chip Deffaa, lecturing in Korea (presented by the U.S. State Department).
When "George M. Cohan Tonight!" opened in Korea, the U.S. State Department presented Chip Deffaa in lectures on Cohan and theater.
Alexander Vershbow, America's Ambassador to Korea, greets Chip Deffaa at a party for Deffaa (at the ambassador's residence in Seoul), celebrating the opening of "George M. Cohan Tonight!" in Korea.
(At left:) Korean entertainer Im Chun-gil performs highlights from the musical "George M. Cohan Tonight!" for 90 invited guests at the residence of America's Ambassador to Korea, Alexander Vershbow. (Below:) A letter from Ambassador Vershbow, offering congratulations on the success of "George M. Cohan Tonight!"
Producer Hansaem ("Eric") Song, actor Im Chin-gil, and playwright Chip Deffaa, at the opening of "George M. Cohan Tonight!" in Korea.
Producer Hansaem Song (pictured at left with star Im Chun-gil), with backing from Don Kwon, did a first-rate production of "George M. Cohan Tonight!" in Korea--rehearsing for three solid months before opening. Deffaa looks forward to doing other shows with him.
The singing and dancing of Im Chun-gil (shown in the photos at right) were electric. Even if you did not understand Korean, his performance was dazzling.
Chip Deffaa's dream would be to have Im Chun-gil do some performances of the show in America someday, so that Korean-Americans could see his stunning work. And have Jon Peterson, who originated the role in America, do a run in Korea, so Korean audiences could see his award-winning performance.
For Chip Deffaa, one of the nicest parts of his vsit to Korea was getting to meet performers, playwrights, and producers from Korea's rapidly growing theater community. The photo below shows Deffaa with Dr. Ungsuh Kenneth Park, the former Samsung CEO who today heads the Goyang Cultural Foundation, an arts complex with theaters of different sizes that could be considered a Korean answer to the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, or the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Chip Deffaa (at right) with Korean arts impresario Dr. Ungsuh Kenneth Park.
Chip Deffaa's lectures in Korea on George M. Cohan and American Theatrical History were coordinated by a supportive, highly efficient team from the U.S. State Department, including Dr. Chaeki F. Synn (Senior Cultural Affairs Specialist), Jean H. Vander Woude (Regional Program Officer), John A. Dyson (Cultural Affairs Officer), Min-ji Kwon (Interpreter), Kim Dae-young (Regional Program Specialist), and Sung-Won Hwang (Intern). Our thanks to all of them for making an amazing trip possible.
Watch for a new production of "George M. Cohan Tonight!" in Korea! More details to come, in time....