ekusudei: (Default)
OG CHICAGO @ Lincoln Center
Koch Theater
July 20-24, 2016


Cast: Hatsukaze Jun, Mine Saori, Isono Chihiro, Mori Keaki, Asaji Saki, Shizuki Asato, Wao Youka, Kozuki Wataru, Hoshina Yuri, Asami Hikaru, Mizu Natsuki, Yamato Yuuga, Suzu Haruki, Makise Kai, Maishiro Nodoka, Manami Sora, Otohana Yuri, Kayou Kirari, Yuuzumi Shun, Tsukio Kazusa, Hanazuki Yuma, Kaon Yuuki, Mishou Kazuki, Koumi Maito, Kitori Mariya, Urara Moe, Maki Izumi, Hayami Sei

Let me just say straight out up front that I'm not a huge fan of the musical Chicago. However, there were members of this tour group who I thought I would never see live on stage, and others who I thought I would never see again live on stage, so this was very precious to me. When I got into the fandom about 10 years ago, Mariko (Asaji Saki) was eight years retired and living in Brazil with her husband and child. Then she started doing OG performances here and there, but I was never in the right place at the right time. This was AMAZING. And Wataru, who was the top star in the very first live show that I saw in 2005. And Mizu, who I had loved so much as a young star, and Marimo, my absolute favorite top musumeyaku ever, and the list goes on and on.... Even Hayami Sei and Maki Izumi ended up being in the NY cast after all!

I saw the Mariko-Mizu-Tani cast twice, once with Hatsukaze-san and once with Mori-san. I saw the Zunko-Wataru-Komu cast on closing night with Mori-san.

I agree with the NY Times review, the show itself was solid but not anything original or likely to steal your heart away. Of the casts that I saw, the Mariko-Mizu-Tani-Mori was my favorite. Mariko just has that charm and appeal, and while Zunko's singing was of course better she just didn't seem as into the performance. Mizu was hands-down the best performer in the cast. Her charisma just took over the entire stage any time she set foot on it, and her singing was strong and Broadway-esque, which is not true for most Takarazuka voices. Wataru had a lot of fun in the role, and I love her to pieces, but she certainly didn't take over the entire stage like Mizu did. I was not expecting Tani to be my favorite Roxie, but her comedy and comedic faces have always been strong (I still love her Nathan Detroit best), and she didn't pull any punches here. Komu's Roxie was woah sexy, but not as funny. Over-all, the Mizu-Tani interactions were more vicious, and you could really buy them as unrepentant killers, while Wataru and Komu seemed to be enjoying life more.

I wasn't certain about Isono-san's Amos Hart at first, but by the time "Mr Cellophane" rolled around I was sold. Very solid, and strongest in the second act. I was SUPER excited to see Hatsukaze-san live on stage. She was a star in the 60s and 70s, one of the first top musumeyaku when the top star system started to develop, and played Marie-Antoinette in the first Takarazuka production of The Rose of Versailles. She is also Hatsukaze Midori's aunt. She returned to the stage in 2000 with the Toho production of Elisabeth and has been steadily acting since. Her voice is certainly as strong and gorgeous as ever, but she seemed frail on stage and I think she was also having some trouble with her sight.

The two big surprises in this show to me were Mori Keaki and Manami Sora. Stay with me! I've seen Mori-san in TMP Specials, in smaller roles, and possibly in a few shows as top star, but nothing ever grabbed me. But with this production I fell in a big way. Her voice is enormous and rich and lovely and "Broadway-esque." Her encore number "That's Life" was my favorite. Manami Sora, wow was she on point as the Jury. She got the biggest laughs every show with her quick-changes and exaggerated comical performances. Really impressive!

Marimo (Aono Yuki) showed off her dancing chops. She had the intro bit, then she was front and center throughout most of the dance numbers, and then she was really awesome as Go-to-Hell Kitty. Man, the Chicago costumes brought back memories.... I miss her in Moon Troupe. Hoshina Yuri was also excellent as Hunyak. .... Actually, it's a little eerie how those two roles matched the personality of a lot of the roles they played while in the Revue.

There were a couple of places that got laughter that I think they weren't expecting at first, but by closing night they were kind of hamming it up. Like the lines at the very end, where Velma and Roxie talk about how they represent American values. Ironic in the original show, it was hilarious spoken in Japanese.

The rest of the company was also excellent. I was impressed by their dancing every time. And the youngest members, who were not listed in the cast lists for NY, actually were there! (Although only for the Encore.) I was so happy! Especially because I was always stage right and a couple of times Hayami-chan was RIGHT THERE. :3

OK, so let's talk Encore! The gentleman from Lincoln Center who arranged to have the performance is also apparently the one who requested a little mini-revue, so this was something added just for the NYC leg of the tour. And it was AMAZING. Basically a jumble of famous revue numbers from the past.

The first three numbers were in the 2015 "Guys and Dolls" line-dance costumes. Four of the ladies were out in the audience for part of it. It was Koumi Maito (I think?) and Hayami Sei stage right, not sure who was stage left.
"Hello Takarazuka!"
"Mambo! No. 5"
"Mira Cats"

"Solamente Una Vez" - Asaji Saki as otokoyaku, Mizu Natsuki and Yamato Yuuga as femme fatales, not sure who sang the shadow chorus
"El Tango de Roxanne" - Shizuki Asato sang as otokoyaku, Kozuki Wataru, Hoshina Yuri, and Aono Yuki as femme fatales. Zunko is not a dancer, so I am not sure why they had her dancing in this number instead of just singing. She managed to drop someone 2 out of the 3 times that I saw the show, poor thing.
"That's Life" - Mori Keaki as otokoyaku with company. Gorgeous. Takarazuka.
"Glory to Be Takarasiennes (Takarasienne ni Eikou Are)" - aka the "Fairy" song. Wao Youka and Asami Hikaru
"Takarazuka, Home in My Heart (Takarazuka, Wa ga Kokoro Furusato)" - Mine Saori and company (Eeeeeverbody in an otokoyaku gunbu dance. I reeeeaaaaally want to know what the musumeyaku felt to get to dance in it.)
"Sumire no Hana Sakugoro" - Hatsukaze Jun as etoile while the company took their bows with feather fans, and the three principals from the performance came out in feathers.

Each time I saw the show people became more and more confident about clapping when the former top stars made their appearances during their encore numbers. My three times I made certain there was clapping for Marimo and Yuri, who I think a lot of non-fans and younger fans don't really know. After the show and before the encore, the three principals of the cast gave a super-titled talk to introduce Takarazuka and the encore. On closing night Zunko, Wataru, and Komu kept forgetting their lines. XD

It was supremely awesome. So awesome. The best of Takarazuka revue show vibes with 12 former top stars. And my tickets were all row A & B, so this was really the closest I've ever been to the stage during a Takarazuka performance. Those 20 minutes made sitting through Chicago three times worth it. So worth it.


Have you seen a production of OG Chicago? What did you think?
ekusudei: (Rika & Juri-pyon)
Passion Blue
Star Troupe, 1996

Stars: Asaji Saki & Shiraki Ayaka

[ TakaWiki ] [ "Who Is Bad?" Review ]

It's been nearly three years since I reviewed "Who Is Bad?", and I knew from the show description, from the cast, and from clips I've seen on various Sky Stage programs that I'd love "Passion Blue", but.... I've never been able to find the VHS in Taka-An. Bad luck, hey? But they finally re-broadcast it last October, so-!

It reminds me thematically of revue shows like "La Bolero Rouge" (another of Miki-Sensei's) and "Blue Moon Blue", but with more primitive costumes. So, a few years before its time, I suppose? Anyway, let's just say that it is indeed in my top ten revue shows, ever. I can't resist Mariko, Rika, and Wataru all dancing together on one stage, and when you throw in my adored combi of Mariko/Ayaka, plus Emao Yuu, Ayaki Nao, Otowa Ryou, and all the other young stars it's impossible to resist. (I enjoy playing spot-the-MatobuSei and spot-the-AsazumiKei, and spot-the-KuonMaya.)

Especially when Rika and Wataru (ken-8! so cute!) are dance-fighting over Tomo Maika in suits and fedoras.

Or Mariko and Rika are dancing together as gypsies♥

Or SO MANY HOT MARIKO/AYAKA PAIR DANCES ngbrkilhbgrbkbj!!!

Let's just say it pushes all of my revue buttons. Even the line dance was entertaining. ;)
ekusudei: (Rika & Juri-pyon)
Well, I'd rather do this when I have time to give all the details but I just don't think I'm going to have a chance anytime soon. So better the bare outline than nothing at all? XD

T4 - First Concert
March 15th, 12 PM performance
Tokyo International Forum, Hall C


Performers: Shibuki Jun, Kozuki Wataru, Ayaki Nao, Takashiro Kei, Hoshina Yuri, Otori Rei, Shijou Rui, four male back-up dancers and singers, and the choreographer (Honma Kenichi).

[ Official Page ] [ 5 tiny pictures ]

I think the best thing about this concert was how well tailored it was to the individual personalities of the four stars. You could really get a sense of who they were. ...Insane ones and demure ones. ;)

Read more... )

And the good news? At intermission they had a note that there is going to be a DVD. Tentatively planned release date for the end of April. :D
ekusudei: (Rika & Juri-pyon)
Well, I'd rather do this when I have time to give all the details but I just don't think I'm going to have a chance anytime soon. So better the bare outline than nothing at all? XD

T4 - First Concert
March 15th, 12 PM performance
Tokyo International Forum, Hall C


Performers: Shibuki Jun, Kozuki Wataru, Ayaki Nao, Takashiro Kei, Hoshina Yuri, Otori Rei, Shijou Rui, four male back-up dancers and singers, and the choreographer (Honma Kenichi).

[ Official Page ] [ 5 tiny pictures ]

I think the best thing about this concert was how well tailored it was to the individual personalities of the four stars. You could really get a sense of who they were. ...Insane ones and demure ones. ;)

Read more... )

And the good news? At intermission they had a note that there is going to be a DVD. Tentatively planned release date for the end of April. :D
ekusudei: (play without words)
Much love to Anna for agreeing to do this with me, even though she was terrified of it.<3 I hope she'll forgive me for posting it while she's sleeping, but this is the point in my week where I actually have time to breathe *grin*. I did the odds and she did the evens. I hope everyone enjoys it -- I think the warmth of hoshigumi is a wonderful thing, and it really shows here.... even if they do tease poor Kazu too much.

Star Troupe Otokoyaku Round-Table Discussion

from The Takarazuka IV: Star Troupe (2008)

Translated by Jen & Anna




I. About Hoshigumi Rehearsal Clothes )

II. Dressing Well in Costumes )

III. Stage Makeup )

IV. The Behavior of an Otokoyaku )

V. The Black Tuxedo Brigade )

VI. When Star Troupe Otokoyaku Get Fired Up )

notes )

Re-Birth

Jun. 7th, 2008 06:12 pm
ekusudei: (Default)
Ngah. September. Tokyo. Yes.

Wataru will be singing a new J-pop song and making her debut as a vocalist, with some very impressive dancers as her back-up. Sakuma Hiroyuki "the hero of the street dance world" is the director and choreographer.

Can I mention that I am amused beyond words that this is taking place in a location called Club-eX?

Re-Birth

Jun. 7th, 2008 06:12 pm
ekusudei: (Default)
Ngah. September. Tokyo. Yes.

Wataru will be singing a new J-pop song and making her debut as a vocalist, with some very impressive dancers as her back-up. Sakuma Hiroyuki "the hero of the street dance world" is the director and choreographer.

Can I mention that I am amused beyond words that this is taking place in a location called Club-eX?
ekusudei: (Default)
The Story of a Sword, Love, and a Rainbow / Jubilation!
Star Troupe, 1995-96

[ TakaWiki ]

Oota Tetsunori/Ishida Masaya

Leads: Asaji Saki & Shiraki Ayaka

The Story of a Sword, Love, and a Rainbow

Cast: )

Summary: )

What I Thought: )

Overall, I though it was a clever adaption, with some scenes in particular that really stood out. I had to watch it broken up over the course of a week because of time problems, so I don't know if it would have held my attention as well in one stretch.

Jubilation!

What I Thought:

I actually really liked this show. It's the kind of mid-90s show that I enjoy. Aside from a few bizarre background sets (Giant legs? Hands?), and one set of costumes, they got away nearly unscathed. The theme song was virally catchy, and I think more shows should have pompoms for their shanshan. Highlights include Mariko and Tsukikage Hitomi dancing on a huge, revolving roulette wheel, and the "Channel Wars" number with Maori Yuki and Emao Yuu as adorable kids, Hacchi-san as a rather lecherous host of a TV shopping network with Mari Yuzumi as his cat-suited side-kick, and Izumo Aya as Lucy on a cooking network. I also really liked a lot of the music in the Southpole numbers. There was also lots of Maori Yuki love again. <3

Across

Nov. 9th, 2007 01:04 pm
ekusudei: (NBN - Tomu & Gun-chan)
Across
2006, Kozuki Wataru Dancing Recital

[ TakaWiki ] [ TCA Shop ]

This show, how have I not done this one either? *fail* I love this show! Whenever I'm in a bad mood, I pull it out and watch the first act, and I'm smiling again.

Read more... )

Takarazuka should do more dance recitals. This is the strength of most of these women; why not take advantage of it? Dinner shows and concerts are all well and good, but let's be honest -- even the talented vocalists aren't usually outstanding when compared to talented, trained women singing in their natural range. But dance? Most of these women have been studying ballet since they could walk. And Wataru's dance? Unbeatable. Her energy, her smiles, her aura really fill up and take over a stage.

So, yes. If you love dance, of all kinds and all flavors, then I highly, highly, highly recommend this DVD. A bit of non-traditional zuka in the first act, and then so many traditional zuka revue cliches in the second you might not survive it. ;) Check out the TCA page for the video clip.
ekusudei: (Rika & Juri-pyon)
Those may possible be the worst white wigs I've seen on a stage. *grin* But my, there is a definitely trend for retired otokoyaku lately, isn't there?
ekusudei: (Rika & Juri-pyon)
Those may possible be the worst white wigs I've seen on a stage. *grin* But my, there is a definitely trend for retired otokoyaku lately, isn't there?
ekusudei: (Default)
I haven't heard much being said about this yet. Unless perhaps it's all being said somewhere other than lj. ;P

TCA is branching out yet again, and have started their own talent agency... chock full of OGs! At least, that's what I assume it is. I'm having trouble finding confirmation, and their lack of press announcements doesn't make it much clearer. Let's all cross our fingers this means more DVDs of OG shows.... But even if not, I think it's an interesting development. Whew, and check out the warnings on reproducing their official photos at the bottom there. They're more noticeable than the ones at the bottom of the Takarazuka home page; that one is so busy I never really took the time to read them before.
ekusudei: (Default)
I haven't heard much being said about this yet. Unless perhaps it's all being said somewhere other than lj. ;P

TCA is branching out yet again, and have started their own talent agency... chock full of OGs! At least, that's what I assume it is. I'm having trouble finding confirmation, and their lack of press announcements doesn't make it much clearer. Let's all cross our fingers this means more DVDs of OG shows.... But even if not, I think it's an interesting development. Whew, and check out the warnings on reproducing their official photos at the bottom there. They're more noticeable than the ones at the bottom of the Takarazuka home page; that one is so busy I never really took the time to read them before.
ekusudei: (Default)
A little belated, but:

Press conference for Dancin' Crazy. I am very amused that Rika has decided to grovel fangirl, where others did not. As, for example: )

---

And Kazahana finally caught up with Rika to get her picture, since she missed her on her last photo-taking spree.

---

The Kean poster was unveiled along with the news conference for it. Trust the media queen to get the media blitz. ;)

Takarazuka Official Website
Takarazuka Precious 1 2
Enak Sumire Style
Sanspo

---

And why am I not shocked at all that it's Yumiko done up like a vampire, even though according to the show summary it's Otsuki Sayu who will be playing the bloodsucker? *amused*
ekusudei: (Default)
A little belated, but:

Press conference for Dancin' Crazy. I am very amused that Rika has decided to grovel fangirl, where others did not. As, for example: )

---

And Kazahana finally caught up with Rika to get her picture, since she missed her on her last photo-taking spree.

---

The Kean poster was unveiled along with the news conference for it. Trust the media queen to get the media blitz. ;)

Takarazuka Official Website
Takarazuka Precious 1 2
Enak Sumire Style
Sanspo

---

And why am I not shocked at all that it's Yumiko done up like a vampire, even though according to the show summary it's Otsuki Sayu who will be playing the bloodsucker? *amused*
ekusudei: (Default)
かず多くの光を
あなたにしくやかに
お届けします!
by カズ

Sending lots of light
your way
calmly and brilliantly!
*
by Kazu

Read more... )

* She managed to use all of the components of her name here (かず, 涼, 華), although she cheated a bit using the hiragana for "kazu", which has a different meaning from "和". ;)
ekusudei: (Yuuhi - The Last Party)
A Map Without Borders
Star Troupe, 1995

Leads: Asaji Saki & Shiraki Ayaka

[ TakaWiki Page ]

Summary:

Act One: I Want to be the Wind )

Act Two: Longer Than Eternity )

What I Thought:

Hm. I've watched it through twice now, and I'm still not entirely captivated by it. There isn't enough Dancing, you see. Or rather, not nearly enough of Asaji Saki dancing. The play itself isn't bad, and in fact has rather believable and sympathetic characters. The dialogue is all Ueda-sensei, though, with long, uninterrupted sections of conversation where the characters tend to wander off track and leave you wondering just why they need to discuss the price of tea for twenty minutes (Note: I am being terribly unfair to Ueda-sensei. No discussion of tea was abused in the making of this show.) Somehow his style fits better with the material of this show, however, where the philosophizing of the characters and the rising up of the citizens all makes sense.

The detour to Takarazuka is so blatantly mismatched to the rest of the show, and the discussion afterward between Mariko's and Minoru Kou's characters is so odd it's endearing. It is a unique way to fit in the hatsubutai speeches and bowing and things, though.

Read more... )
ekusudei: (play without words)
Too Short a Time to Fall in Love / Neo-Dandyism!
Star Troupe, 2006

Top Stars: Kozuki Wataru & Shirahane Yuri

[ TakaWiki ] [ Enak Sumire Style Stage Graph ] [ TCA Pictures Store ]

Too Short a Time to Fall in Love:

Hm. Entertaining and cute, with lots of funny scenes and lots of sweet scenes. I liked the show; the musical numbers were catchy and entertaining (that life-jacket song? Priceless). And yet somehow it didn't completely click with me. I guess I'm always expecting to be blown away by sayonara kouen.

Read more... )

Neo-Dandyism!:

Oh, so much love! So very, very much love. Enough echoes of the original Dandyism to make me grin, yet enough completely original things to make this show belong to Hoshigumi. And love, as always, for Sha Tamae's choreography.

Read more... )

I really, really recommend getting the DVD. But I'm one of those loonies who buys things for the revue. ;)

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