Arts Council Tokyo sets its sights high

by Nobuko Tanaka

“For decades, many people involved in the arts — including producers, creators, administrators and academics — were pointing to the need for an overall arts-policy body in Tokyo, and finally Arts Council Tokyo came into being in November 2012,” its program director, Yuko Ishiwata, noted with some satisfaction. But in ...

'In the Heights' sizzles across distant cultures

Apr 9, 2014

'In the Heights' sizzles across distant cultures

by Lindsay Nelson

I had a few reservations about the first Japanese production of “In the Heights,” the Broadway sensation nominated for 13 Tony awards in 2008. For one, neither of the female leads playing Nina and Vanessa seemed to have much musical-theater experience. I also wondered ...

Morticia's odd clan spell laughs with a local bent

Apr 9, 2014

Morticia's odd clan spell laughs with a local bent

by Nobuko Tanaka

If the Kennedys could be said to be American royalty, then the famed Addams family would surely be satirical pretenders to their antithesis. Gothic, seemingly immortal and nothing if not weird, this wacky clan with a taste for the creatively macabre first appeared in ...

'Lady Bess' set to make grand Tokyo entrance

Apr 9, 2014

'Lady Bess' set to make grand Tokyo entrance

by Mana Katsura

April 13 is a big day for theatergoers in Tokyo, as it sees the world premiere of “Lady Bess,” a musical by the world-renowned team of German writer Michael Kunze and Hungarian composer Sylvester Levay, with famed hit-maker Shuichiro Koike directing. Considering the play ...

Opening-night thrills with the NNTB

Apr 2, 2014

Opening-night thrills with the NNTB

by Ayako Takahashi

Although ballet-goers in Japan tend to prefer narrative works, the trio of edgy and abstract pieces from the 20th century to the present showcased last week by the New National Theatre Ballet (NNTB) may well have some revising their preferences. Titled “Symphony in Three ...

Obsessions bared over a dead dog in the night

Apr 2, 2014

Obsessions bared over a dead dog in the night

by Nobuko Tanaka

“It’s f-cking amazing! I don’t know what else to say. I’m really happy and really moved and I’m so humble about that.” One of the most influential, magnetic — and busy — English playwrights at work today, 43-year-old Simon Stephens opened his round eyes ...

Apr 2, 2014

Aichi's thriving drama grassroots

by Kris Kosaka

This year is set to be a good one for English theater in Japan, from Shakespearean comedy to original works, from intimate black-box stagings to a rock’n'roll musical. It’s not Tokyo or even Osaka serving up this feast, though — but Nagoya, which is ...

A chance to shine at an early age

Mar 26, 2014

A chance to shine at an early age

by Lindsay Nelson

It’s 9:15 on a cold and rainy Saturday morning, and Wendell Harrison is running late. “The one day I send an email telling them not to be late, and I’m the one having problems,” he laments. Harrison’s doing double duty at the moment: directing ...

Chasing a Phantom of success

Mar 26, 2014

Chasing a Phantom of success

by Natsume Date

Based on “Le Fantôme de l’Opéra,” a 1911 novel by the French author of detective fiction, Gaston Leroux, and transformed into a musical composed, co-written and produced by Englishman Andrew Lloyd Webber (now Baron Lloyd-Webber), “The Phantom of the Opera” was first produced in ...

Go feast on morsels of a masterwork

Mar 19, 2014

Go feast on morsels of a masterwork

by Rei Sasaguchi

Audiences at the National Theatre of Japan might be excused for indulging in a little time travel this month as they feast their senses on prime morsels of “Musume Gonomi Ukina no Yokogushi,” a masterwork by Kawatake Mokuami first served up at the Moritaza ...

Genders revel in Bausch's iconic 'Kontakthof'

Mar 19, 2014

Genders revel in Bausch's iconic 'Kontakthof'

by Kris Kosaka

To watch “Kontakthof,” Pina Bausch’s masterpiece of dance theater, is to be like a voyeur peering from behind a one-way mirror into the everyday battlefield of male-female interaction. The dancers, too, seem to treat the audience as a mirror, slicking back hair, adjusting bra ...

Tohoku school's plays tell how it is

Mar 19, 2014

Tohoku school's plays tell how it is

by Nobuko Tanaka

“We always start creating our next work by having a meeting with everyone involved in the drama club,” high school teacher Michiko Ishii explained. “We discuss what is actually happening around us and what we should focus on in the next play. So, what ...