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: (Star Troupe)
War and Peace
Star Troupe, 1988

Stars: Hyuuga Kaoru & Minakaze Mai

[ TakaWiki ]

Summary:

This arrangement of the War and Peace novel begins about half-way through book two, with the temporary truce brookered between Russia and France. Pierre has already married and become estranged from Hélène, and Prince Andrei's wife Lise has already passed away.

The action of the musical opens at Natasha's first grand ball, where through Pierre's kindness she meets and dances with Prince Andrei, and the two fall in love. In short time Prince Andrei returns to his father's home to talk with his father about marrying Natasha. His father urges caution, particularly when his many absences have already left the burden of raising Prince Andrei's son on his sister's shoulders. Prince Andrei and Natasha thus begin a secret (from society), year-long engagement, and Prince Andrei promises the young Natasha that if she changes her mind or falls in love with another man throughout that year, she is free to break the engagement.

Read more... )

What I Thought:

I had both a lot of high expectations going into this show, and low expectations.

Low, because I love War and Peace, the novel and the Russian epic film. It's hard to live up to something you imprinted on as a pre-teen. Low. also, because it's 80s Takarazuka. And, finally, because it was written and directed by Ueda Shinji.

High, because I love the story, because it was the last performance for Haruna Yuri and Tajima Kumi, and because Asaji Saki played Kuragin (I had such a crush on Kuragin as a teenager. I know, I'm weird.).

Read more... )

The costumes were meh, the ballroom dance scenes were epic.

All in all, bits of give and take, but over all I left feeling very happy about it. Surprisingly so, perhaps? In retrospect, it was the perfect vehicle to see off a top musumeyaku and a legend like Haruna Yuri, while still giving juicy scenes to the top star and her nibante.
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: (Default)
I'm procrastinating on writing thank you cards, so you get:

69th Class love.

Star Light Dinner Show
Hotel Hankyu International, 21st September 2009

Members:
Asaji Saki
Izumo Aya
Chiaki Shin


Set List:

"Brazil" - Asaji Saki
"New York, New York" - Chiaki Shin
"It's a Small World" - Asaji Saki & Chiaki Shin
"Only Me" (Elisabeth) - Izumo Aya
"When You Wish Upon a Star" - Izumo Aya & Asaji Saki & Chiaki Shin

69th Class Takarazuka Medley
- various

"Longer Than Eternity" (Map Without Borders) - Izumo Aya & Asaji Saki
"The Spirit of the Samurai" (The Spirit of the Samurai) - Asaji Saki & Chiaki Shin
"Last Dance" (Elisabeth) - Asaji Saki

"Amazing Grace" - Izumo Aya
"The Winner Takes It All" - Chiaki Shin
"All By Myself" - Asaji Saki
"There's No Business Like Show Business" - Izumo Aya & Asaji Saki & Chiaki Shin


What I Thought: )
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

Zatoichi

Nov. 24th, 2007 02:04 pm
ekusudei: (Default)
*keels over*

Page for Asaji Saki's new play "Zatoichi". Oh. Love.

PS - I need to either raid Kairi's wardrobe, or get her to take me shopping.

Zatoichi

Nov. 24th, 2007 02:04 pm
ekusudei: (Default)
*keels over*

Page for Asaji Saki's new play "Zatoichi". Oh. Love.

PS - I need to either raid Kairi's wardrobe, or get her to take me shopping.
ekusudei: (play without words)
Asaji Saki did a run of essays in a magazine entitled "Figaro Japon", beginning in 1994-ish. In 1997 they were collected together and published in a little hardcover book called déjà vu. They're terribly sweet and give you a wonderful, warm impression of Mariko's personality. This was one of the first I read, and in light of all the puzzlement and questions about fan letters recently, I knew I would have to translate it. This is a really quick translation, so the English is a little awkward, but I think her love still shines through.


Dressing Room Sashiire

Today when my job was over and I was heading home, I received some pickles from a fan.

Read more... )
ekusudei: (play without words)
A bittersweet yet happy story. Kawai Minako (former Takarasienne Marisa Hitomi) performed on the 5th at Asaji Saki's dinner show in Takarazuka. Some of you might remember that she was in that terrible, terrible train accident in Osaka in 2005 and broke both her legs. She's still in rehability, but she was able to stand on her own and perform. Her father passed away due to illness last year, and she decided for his sake to return to the stage when Mariko asked her. She performed in Tokyo in January as well.

(As a footnote, the article mentions that both her grandmother and mother were seito as well.)
ekusudei: (play without words)
A bittersweet yet happy story. Kawai Minako (former Takarasienne Marisa Hitomi) performed on the 5th at Asaji Saki's dinner show in Takarazuka. Some of you might remember that she was in that terrible, terrible train accident in Osaka in 2005 and broke both her legs. She's still in rehability, but she was able to stand on her own and perform. Her father passed away due to illness last year, and she decided for his sake to return to the stage when Mariko asked her. She performed in Tokyo in January as well.

(As a footnote, the article mentions that both her grandmother and mother were seito as well.)
ekusudei: (Default)
Eri-san speaks about her retirement. She says she's been thinking about it for about three years... that she wants to get married and have children. And she's in a bit of shock over classmates retiring. So she talked it over with her older brother, and he advised her to retire if she was losing her way. (T_T)

Mariko is returning to the stage... as an actress! Her debut will be this winter. <3<3<3

Randomly, "Sonoka" is Sonoka's real name. Her grandfather created it for her.

And, because I know you all want to know... scuttlebut on the mixi says that the white bag Yuuhi's been carrying in iride lately is Goyard brand. You can all sleep easy now.

I hope the first half of the 2008 schedule is posted tonight. But I'm too tired to stay up and wait for it. *yawn*
ekusudei: (Default)
Eri-san speaks about her retirement. She says she's been thinking about it for about three years... that she wants to get married and have children. And she's in a bit of shock over classmates retiring. So she talked it over with her older brother, and he advised her to retire if she was losing her way. (T_T)

Mariko is returning to the stage... as an actress! Her debut will be this winter. <3<3<3

Randomly, "Sonoka" is Sonoka's real name. Her grandfather created it for her.

And, because I know you all want to know... scuttlebut on the mixi says that the white bag Yuuhi's been carrying in iride lately is Goyard brand. You can all sleep easy now.

I hope the first half of the 2008 schedule is posted tonight. But I'm too tired to stay up and wait for it. *yawn*
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: (Yuuhi - The Last Party)
There is a video clip up for the new Yukigumi performance on the TCA website.

Also, there is going to be an Otori Ran & Asaji Saki dinner show in July. I... Yes.


And also, because I live in hope, I shall continue to pester you all with my list of things for sale.
ekusudei: (Yuuhi - The Last Party)
There is a video clip up for the new Yukigumi performance on the TCA website.

Also, there is going to be an Otori Ran & Asaji Saki dinner show in July. I... Yes.


And also, because I live in hope, I shall continue to pester you all with my list of things for sale.
ekusudei: (BAD has never been so GOOD)
Can you tell I raided the video sale? ;)

The Spirit of the Samurai / Fascination II
Star, 1997

Top Stars: Asaji Saki / Tsukikage Hitomi

[ TakaWiki Page ]

Cast: )

Summary. No, really. It's been a week, so this is quite possibly the shortest summary ever. )

What I Thought: )

I wonder if the lack of lifts have something to do with the fact that Gun-chan didn't stay on as Mariko's partner? They seemed to have very nice chemistry together otherwise....

Oops!

Oct. 15th, 2006 11:21 am
ekusudei: (Default)
Since everyone seems to have gotten so much amusement out of poor Oura and Taatan falling into the orchestra pit....

In 1995, during Asaji Saki's drama city show "Action!" there was a talk corner where the top actresses were all asked about their biggest mess-ups on stage. How did they reply?


Asaji Saki: During the run of Daichi Mao's final show in Tsuki, Mariko came on stage and crossed in front of the two top stars doing their love scene, instead of going around behind them.

Shiraki Ayaka: During Hanagumi's Berubara, when Natsume-san was coming up onto the stage via the lift, Aya was going across the stage, tripped on her dress, and nearly fell in!

Izumo Aya: None during the shows! But during practices for "A Sword, Love, and a Rainbow", Aya sat on Taki's skirt, and started her scene with Mariko. Taki tried to gently pull out her skirt, but no good. So then she knelt down and pulled on it. Ayaka realized, and lifed her foot just as Taki was pulling, and poor Taki went tumbling.

Tsukikage Hitomi: She fell down the Grand Staircase! Her legs were all blue with bruises, but otherwise she was alright.

Minoru Kou: During Utakata no Koi/Paparagi, her pants zipper fell down while she was dancing at the front of the stage! She had to do a quick turn and zip, apparently, and the crowd kept laughing for quite some time....

Oops!

Oct. 15th, 2006 11:21 am
ekusudei: (Default)
Since everyone seems to have gotten so much amusement out of poor Oura and Taatan falling into the orchestra pit....

In 1995, during Asaji Saki's drama city show "Action!" there was a talk corner where the top actresses were all asked about their biggest mess-ups on stage. How did they reply?


Asaji Saki: During the run of Daichi Mao's final show in Tsuki, Mariko came on stage and crossed in front of the two top stars doing their love scene, instead of going around behind them.

Shiraki Ayaka: During Hanagumi's Berubara, when Natsume-san was coming up onto the stage via the lift, Aya was going across the stage, tripped on her dress, and nearly fell in!

Izumo Aya: None during the shows! But during practices for "A Sword, Love, and a Rainbow", Aya sat on Taki's skirt, and started her scene with Mariko. Taki tried to gently pull out her skirt, but no good. So then she knelt down and pulled on it. Ayaka realized, and lifed her foot just as Taki was pulling, and poor Taki went tumbling.

Tsukikage Hitomi: She fell down the Grand Staircase! Her legs were all blue with bruises, but otherwise she was alright.

Minoru Kou: During Utakata no Koi/Paparagi, her pants zipper fell down while she was dancing at the front of the stage! She had to do a quick turn and zip, apparently, and the crowd kept laughing for quite some time....
ekusudei: (Default)
Comparing these two, I have to say... 1990 is less painful. And trust me, this is a frightening thing indeed.

Here's the info and song list for TMP 1990 "Hello! Wonderful Time"

Points in its favor include, as many agree, the cuteness of the baby 'siennes in tuxes. Also, Oura Mizuki and Marimo Eri's lovely dance to "New York, New York", Mori Keaki in a suit "42nd Street", and a version of "Leaning on a Lamppost" from Me and My Girl with Kodama Ai playing the policeman.

Points against include: lycra, bad singing, attempts at Beatles and David Bowie covers, and... well, too much to list, really.

TMP 1989 "That's Movie! II

It's two hours of Oscar-winning songs from the 30s to the 80s. And no one attempted to modify them to keys that these woman could actually sing in. I swear my ears started bleeding. Again with the lycra too, but mainly the problem was the singing, because... that's all they did. A few brief walk-across appearances of otokoyaku in dresses (Scarlet ahoy), but that's all we had to break up the monotony.

Points in its favor include.... Suzukaze Mayo singing "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun (Hey, I'm an 80s child, okay? I like this song; it makes me cry.), and... uh.... Utako's giant, dangly moon earing? ...... And also, um... well, uhm... It's Takarazuka? Actually, though, it was more than worth it for Kaname's version of "Take My Breath Away". It sure did. And also, the faces Fubuki was making at the baby doll in that one song were really priceless.


It appears that Marimo Eri was the current favorite back then. I think she had more appearances in each show than any of the other top stars. I can see why, too. She sang decently and danced well.

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