(From January 2019 KAGEKI)
Members: (playwright/director) Ueda Keiko, (Moon Troupe) Miya Rurika, Umino Mitsuki, Tsukishiro Kanato
Ueda: "Anna Karenina" was a 2001 Bow Hall show written for Asami Hikaru, and was designed to be a classic Takarazuka love romance. The musical adaption of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" centers on forbidden love, and included plenty of showcases for dancing. In 2008 we had the opportunity to re-stage it as a Star Troupe Bow Hall workshop, for the 30th anniversary of Bow Hall. In that production Miya-chan played Karenin, and now that time has passed I'm sure everyone wants to see the vehicle for her to star as Vronsky! (laughs)
Ueda: I've long thought that the expressiveness of Miya-chan's dancing is magnetic. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Miya-chan as a dancer brings that magnetism to life at this point in her career. And moreover I'm anticipating how she'll make the story her own and how the show will carry away the audience's hearts.
Miya: I really loved that first production of "Anna." I saw it as a yokasei¹ and fell in deep, and after that I spent all my days off watching "Anna" on video (laughs). Then, when I was in Star Troupe and it was decided to put it on again I was overjoyed, and there were auditions. At the time I was still figuring out what it meant to be a Takarazuka otokoyaku, so I was happy for the opportunity to see each iteration.... Karenin was a turning point for me in my studies, since the role was so central to the story and so profound. I believe that the otokoyaku I am today is because of that role. This time I'm happy to face Karenin (and the show) as Vronsky, and I'm so moved and grateful!
Ueda: Rehearsals have only just started, but how are things going?
Miya: It's tougher than the time I played Karenin, and I can't believe how tortured Vronsky is! (laughs) His love for Anna characterizes everything he does, and it continues to take over the meaning of his life, for which he pays an enormous price. But to have that joy and that emptiness side by side...?
Ueda: To others, Vronsky seems like the man who has everything, but the truth and the love that he is really searching for elude him, and he is unsatisfied. He and Anna are alike in how they tempestuously press on in their search for true love.
Miya: The new theme song that you wrote for this performance really conveys that love is what brings meaning to people's lives.
Ueda: Miya-chan, I feel that you are an actress who can portray your own love and thoughts very clearly. I can see that you are someone who creates a role carefully, to be true to the feelings that the role was born from, and I look forward to seeing the Vronsky that you bring to life in rehearsals.
Umino: The first Bow Hall show that I ever saw was Star Troupe's "Anna," and I saw Miya-san's Karenin from the first row.
Umino: Just hearing that Miya-san had the lead role this time was enough to get me excited. Anna's meeting with Vronsky is when she falls in love with him and the beginning of her downfall, but it's moving because to Anna this meeting is a truly happy moment. I'd like to create a deep role that holds true to Anna's roots.
Ueda: I think the role of Anna is a very straightforward woman who has to live true to her heart, and a part of whom just can't be sensible. Umi-chan, when you're acting you overflow with emotions, which is splendid in an actress. You also can look at things from different angles, and let things hit your heart, so I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of Anna you create.
Miya: In "Azure Moment,"² Umi-chan and I were friends more than lovers, so to speak such straightforward words of love to each other and to interact with each other in this way is very fresh and new. Right now I don't want us reasoning things through too much, but rather coming together with the feelings of those searching for love. I want us both looking together.
Ueda: What do you think, Tsukishiro-san?
Tsukishiro: Lately I've been realizing over and over how hard re-stagings really are, and particularly this time when it's a role Miya-san has so much emotional attachment to, I know I have to be doing it right! (laughs)
Tsukishiro: But right from the start when we were shooting the poster, I could feel that Miya-san wanted me to make my own version of Karenin, and I felt a fresh sense that this would be a time to soar. At first glance Karenin seems someone to be pitied and little more, but then you see how awkward he is towards those he loves. And then when the things boiling in his heart escape, you see how much he keeps locked away. But I think it is those things that Karenin conceals that are precious to him, which is what I hope to convey. It's difficult....
Ueda: Karenin won't admit his feelings of jealousy towards Vronsky, but while he continues his married life with Anna I feel there is a lot that he doesn't notice. From Anna and Vronsky's meeting, what will that bring to each of their lives...? I hope to leave the audience with the impression that people live in order to feel love. Umi-chan, I also wonder how your relationship with Tsukishiro-san that started with "The Last Party"³ will influence this performance? It is something that reassures me.
Miya: I was also an underclassman when I played Karenin, so there was a part of me that thought to be just like Kashige-san (Takashiro Kei)4. But I feel that Reiko (Tsukishiro) is working to find her own version of Karenin.
Tsukishiro: Yes, I'm trying. I was paired with Umi-chan in "The Last," so luckily we could bump along easily as a married couple right from the start.
Umino: I think this work is a real turning point for me. I hope to have true sparks fly between Anna's straightforward heart and Karenin.
Ueda: The finale this time is similar to the Snow Troupe version, and the duet dance is a new one choreographed by Ōishi Haruka-san.
Miya: I'm really looking forward to it.
Ueda: For this re-staging I thought about how I could update the visual aspects. The visuals for the poster that you were just talking about too....
Miya: Yes. In Takarazuka there are a lot of gentlemen in uniform with a Regent hairstyle, so we added the rarer wavy-style hair to the front.
Ueda: I think it looks great.
Miya: It's a wig, but there are those who think it's my real hair (laughs).
Tsukishiro: Just by looking at the poster I can feel that this will be a new "Anna." The members want to portray the depths of the human heart.
Umino: I'm so happy to be in a production with such a focal love theme. I will try to portray the emotional struggles of such an honest heart.
Miya: I think it truly is a joy to portray love, this all-important human foundation. When I think on love, I reflect that my own life has been made richer from it. All kinds of love are what make the world work, and among them perhaps the most simple is love of another human being--This is what I feel this role portrays, and what I look forward to showing the audience.
Ueda: I think that as a Takarazuka work, the lovely visuals and magnetism of the love scenes will appeal to the audience. But, more than anything, it is Vronsky and Anna's love for each other, more than the consequences they must pay and the misery, the most important thing is their meeting and love for each other, and it is the wonder and light of that love that I want this work to leave in the hearts of the audience.
(1) yokasei = first year Takarazuka Music School student
(2) "Azure Moment" = 2017 Drama City show starring Miya Rurika, Umino Mitsuki, and Tsukishiro Kanato
(3) "The Last Party" = 2018 Drama City show starring Tsukishiro Kanato and Umino Mitsuki as the tempestuously married F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda.
(4) Takashiro Kei played Karenin in the 2001 version