Thursday, April 2, 2015

Takarazuka Revue

Kick lines, feather plumes, sequins, a disco ball, a lit stair case down which the entire cast descended several times; it was the Takarazuka Revue.  It never disappoints.  After a first half with a romance dramatic musical about the independence from France of a fictional island in the Mediterranean, the second half was a revue of song and dance, beautifully escapist as any Depression-era follies might hope to be.  There is a mystic to the entire Revue: that it is only women with half in cross-dress, that so many women attend and idolize the stars with Beatles fan club enthusiasm, that Hankyu has produced the musicals of this theater for over 100 years, that they find it profitable enough to continue to finance about 10 shows a week, rotating monthly through five different troupes of performers, two different orchestras, and who knows how many choreographers, directors, costume designers, and lighting designers.  And every production is original material, all written and composed for the Takarazuka Revue, rarely reused. A healthy show business indeed.  I'm so curious about so many things about it; the social aspects, primarily concerning gender, the business model of Hankyu, the contracts of the people involved, the strict school which feeds the cast.  How does this whole thing work together?  It would seem to reflect so many things about Japan.  And it seems so inaccessible.

It's an incredible production.  The dancing is great, the costumes spare no expense, the compositions are whimsical.  Today, one number in the revue portion focused on a nerdy basketball player who, with a little help from some rainbow clad ladies, gets his team in shape to win the cheerleader, beating out the competitor "cool" kids.  This was all done by way of melodic reference to "Love Shack" as well as La Marseillaise.  In another number, the fourth movement from Dvorak's New World Symphony was sung almost in it's entirety (I have no idea what the lyrics were), another was Mozart, another referenced Tchaikovsky.  Another was almost completely "It's a Wonder World," but not quite.  Everything is almost some other song, compiled in a creative repackaging and reinterpretation.  

It's so dazzling.  It's so mystifying and intriguing.  And it's in my backyard, a new production every month.  An incredible phenomenon.  Lucky to have found it and to have the friends to show me how to get in to a show.  

With an audience of almost entirely women, the bathroom planning needs to be well-engineered;
in the above diagram, one can see the flow of traffic by the arrows through the many stalls

The theme of the revue portion of the show, top of act two

1 comment:

  1. Looks magical. Wish I could experience it. Thanks for sharing.