Star Bow Hall, 1999
|Raikouya Takagorou (Otaka's older brother, a kabuki actor) / Otaka (kabuki actor Raikouya Takajirou's daughter)||Ayaki Nao|
|Mouri Mari (Mouri Shintarou's daughter)||Hisato Rie|
|Fukunaga Osuke (member of the Ministry of Home Affairs)||Asazumi Kei|
|Mouri Shintarou (a literary man, the surgeon general)||Natsumi You|
|Shige (Shintarou's wife) / Okami (landlady of an inn in Yokohama)||Mari Yuzumi|
|Mimasuya Kirizou (kabuki actor)||Nishiki Ai|
|Kisaragi Juushirou (kabuki actor)||Oohiro Ayumu|
|Aizawa Kenichi (an old friend of Shintarou, police superintendent)||Asamiya Mayu|
|Iriya Shigeyoshi (proprieter of the Enouza)||Tsukasa Yuuki|
|Marui Yae (servant in the Mouri household)||Miya Erika|
|Andou Shingoro (rickshaw man in Yokohama, previously a pickpocket in Shinbashi)||Matobu Sei|
|Raikouya Suketaka (a long-time pupil of Riakouya, a kabuki actor)||Chitosa Manabu|
|Oroku (a pickpocket)||Hara Miteki|
|Genji (leader of the pickpockets) / Tachibana-hime (A character in the play within the play)||Ayase Saki|
|Osei (a pickpocket)||Ayame Hikaru|
|Koganei Kimiko (Mari's friend)||Marino Yui|
|Kobori (Mouri household servant)||Mizushiro Rena|
|Okada Kenkichi (Fukunaga's underling, member of the Ministry of Home Affairs)||Mine Keito|
|Elise (A girl Moritarou remembers fondly)||Hoshikaze Erena|
|Arai Akira (Mari's friend)||Hiiro Moe|
|Shunkichi (a young man of the inn in Yokohama)||Ooma Miran|
There is a long, rambling, incomprehensible summary up on the TakaWiki. It is not my most shining moment, but this musical sends me into incoherent joy every time I watch it, so that's probably as good as you're going to get from me.
What I Thought:
Guh. First of all, Meiji Era Japan is just a gorgeous time-period for staged performances. The mix of Victorian gowns and suits with more traditional kimono is always a joy to see, and Takarazuka's costumers didn't disappoint. Add in the kabuki stage costumes from the plays within the play and it gets even more impressive. To fit this theme of a mix of cultures the dances varied from traditional Japanese to ballroom, to some silly slapstick between the minor characters.
I think Saeko was the perfect choice to star in this play, because of her androgyny. She played Otaka-as-Takaragorou wonderfully, and was, of course, beautiful. The scene in the second act, where she performs the Japanese dance and then weeps silently with huge, fat teardrops rolling down her cheeks.... *sniffles* Beautiful. I became very fond of the actress who played Iriya (Tsukasa Yuuki), and wished that there could have been some more romantic closure between her and Otaka, but well, of course it had to be Takagorou and Mari who were the focus. And speaking of Mari, I was very impressed by Hisato Rie and all of the musumeyaku in this show. Strong, fun characters with good voices. Asazumi Kei absolutely cracked me up.... particularly in the scene after everyone has left the restaurant, when the waiter begins to politely pester him to pay the bill. "Okyaku-sama? ..... Okyaku-sama?" Why, why did this woman retire early? Un-chan as Shingorou.... yummy. That's the most coherent thing you'll get out of me on that front. This woman should always be in Nihonmono as the bad-boy character. Always. Nishiki Ai and Ohiro Ayumu were absolutely squishable as the two kabuki actors, particularly Ayumu's onnagata. Oh, I laughed so hard my sides hurt. How a woman can play a man who plays female characters so much he's adopted the mannerisms.... That takes a special talent.
I think, out of all the Shakespeare Bow Halls that I've seen, this one is my favorite, even over R&J'99. The reason being that it's just so well-rounded. The costumes, the music, the songs, the characters, the plot -- everything is entertaining, and I wouldn't change a thing.