Two-Man Operetta

But:to, via Interpark

Pansori is partly pathos, partly fun: Amidst the pain, lament, and sacrific endured throughout the stories, there is also a lot of joking going on. Not only characters like a cheeky servant, a foxy monk, and a tricky rabbit that farts its enemies away, bear witness to the more comical layers, also the (generally) relaxed attitude of the singer, sometimes also called a gwangdae (광대), i.e. a clown, who shares some chit-chat with the audience in-between dramatic plot points is part of the fun.

At a workshop hosted by the KLTI in 2010, Matthias R. Entreß also noted that in earlier days pansori-singers might have had “a certain similarity to stand-up comedians” today, in other words: keeping a crowd entertained—sometimes for hours.

Well, the performance But:too (바투) takes this approach to the extreme: This “comic variety pansori” (코믹 버라이어티 판소리) is a two-men show. Two men? Isn’t pansori usually performed by only a single singer (and usually a woman, for that matter)? Not this time…

It is a story about an incompetent cop who accidentally raises to fame in a hostage situation and a casanova-style thief loved by the people—want to know more? Come and find out! Playing at Namsan Gugakdang the first weekend of April. Tickets might seem a bit expensive at 25,000 won, but there is a 50% sale if you book until March 28th (tickets  at Interpark). For more information (in Korean) and directions see this  homepage.

— April 2012

  • <코믹 버라이어티 판소리 바투>, 출연: 이상화, 김봉영, 주최,주관: 국악누리, 기획: ㈜아트컴퍼니 바삭, 공연기간: 2012년 4월 6일 ~ 2012년 4월 8일, 공연장소: 서울남산국악당, 공연시간: 금요일 오후 8시, 토요일 오후 4시, 7시 30분, 일요일 오후 3시, 관람료: 일반석(전석) 25,000원, 문의: 02.755.9478/9, 02.2261.0500.
  • Comic Variety Pansori But:too, performers: Lee Sang-hwa and Kim Bong-yeong, host and supervision: Gugak Nuri, planning: Art Company Baksa, on show from April 6th until April 8th, 2012 at Namsan Gugakdang, Seoul, Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 7.30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m., tickets at 25,000 Won, inquiries: 02.755.9478/9 or 02.2261.0500.

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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2 Responses to Two-Man Operetta

  1. Ben Davis says:

    Jan- My name is Ben Davis. I am a Broadway actor/singer. I’ve been looking to get over to Korea for some time now to do a concert/show. What are your observations and thoughts about the success of Americans coming over to do Broadway style concerts? I have a program that I sing with another Broadway gal, Kelli O’Hara, that contains mostly Rodgers & Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Kurt Weill music. Is there a market? Which symphony there would be best?

    • Dear Ben,

      sorry for my late reply — to tell the truth, I do not know that much about Broadway-style musicals in Korea, or anywhere else, for that matter.

      Of course, there are some large scale, long-running productions — often with Koreanized songs — of Broadway/Westend hit-musicals such as “Chicago”, “Three Musketeers”, “Mamma Mia”, “Jekyll & Hyde” etc. Tickets are really expensive — and people seem to pay it, so there is definitely a market for Musicals. I’m pretty positive that people would be even more interested in “visitors from Broadway”, I think the crucial think would be (as usual) the marketing.

      In other words, if you want to come over for a series of concerts, you should make sure you’ve got a good Korean partner who guarantees adequate publicity. I do not really know who to suggest to turn to, but I will ask around a bit.

      This might be far-fetched, but I found the site of the 한국뮤지컬협회 (Hanguk Musical Hyeophoe, “Korean Musical Society”,, which is completely in Korean, but they give an email address ( which you might consider to contact. It seems to be more of an organisation to promote domestic musicals, still there might be the chance for a cooperation?

      In any case, I’ll let you know if I have some other ideas — please keep me posted on your plans.

      Best, Jan

      PS: Just found a a link to an article on a 2011-production of “Monte Cristo” by Robert Johanson, New Jersey-based director (, he also directed “Elisabeth” (an Austrian? musical) which premiered this spring ( — here some information on him, a possible advisor if you can get his contacts? (

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