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TWO POP STARS, TWO MUSICALS

‘Chicago,’ ‘BKLYN’ show Broadway’s different sides

by Stephanie Hannon

Broadway has been thrilling audiences for generations, and the arrival in Japan this month of two of its biggest shows, “Chicago” and “BKLYN,” gives Tokyoites the opportunity to embrace some all-American musical classics.

The multi-award-winning “Chicago” is one of Broadway’s longest-running shows — it celebrated its 10th anniversary last autumn. Entwined within the raunchy costume design and provocative Bob Fosse choreography lies a satirical plot line which looks at the nature of celebrity and the American justice system. “With such a solid script, the show doesn’t get old and the audiences don’t tire of it. It could go on forever,” said Carol Woods, who plays Matron “Mama” Morton, at the recent Tokyo press call for “Chicago.”

Heading the cast is Backstreet Boy member Kevin Richardson, who has been treading the boards since his theater debut as Billy Flynn in “Chicago” in 2003. Richardson said he was hoping “to bring a new, younger audience to the theater” by taking on the role.

“Chicago” runs through March 4 at the Nissay Theater, Yurakucho, Tokyo. Performance times vary. Tickets are 9,000 yen, 11,000 yen and 13,000 yen. Visit www.chicago2007.jp/schedule.html for more information.

In contrast to the glitz of “Chicago,” an all-Japanese cast of just five perform in “BKLYN” as down-and-outs who sing the story of a young woman who arrives in New York in search of her father. Tomiko Van, formerly the vocalist in the J-pop act Do As Infinity, takes the lead role.

“BKLYN” co-writer Mark Schoenfeld was writing from experience — he once lived homeless in New York’s Central Park where, accompanied by a boom-box held together with tape, he used to perform “sidewalk fairy tales” of his own. “How often do we pass by homeless souls . . . never once thinking of how they got there, what were their dreams and aspirations?” asks Schoenfeld on the official “BKLYN” Web site.

Fortunately, Schoenfeld realized his own dream to co-write this hard-edged fairy tale that will be staged at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space from Feb. 18-28 (times vary). Tickets are 8,500 yen and 10,000 yen. For more information, call (0180) 993 503 or visit www.fujitv.co.jp/events/stage/bklyn/index.html