LAS VEGAS – The traditional Japanese art form of kabuki made its debut Friday night on the Las Vegas Strip at the famed Fountains of Bellagio.
Not the typical kabuki staging of the more than 400-year-old traditional art, the kabuki play “Koi-Tsukami” (“Fight With a Carp”) received a Las Vegas-style production with high tech upgrades giving the traditional art a new flair.
In the production, renowned kabuki actor Ichikawa Somegoro, 42, plays a young man who falls in love with a beautiful princess, played by 22-year-old actor Nakamura Yonekichi. The princess, who is actually a carp seeking vengeance for the death of her fiance, transforms into a giant fish and a battle ensues.
“To be able to perform here in Las Vegas feels like a dream. It still feels like I’m in a dream,” Somegoro said after the opening night performance.
“When I was approached for this project I was very delighted and decided on the theme of ‘hidden strength,’ ” he said. “For over 400 years, kabuki has survived through many different eras. That is the ‘hidden power’ that I think kabuki has and that is what I wanted to show here in Las Vegas.”
By orchestrating this event, Shochiku Co., the premier kabuki production company in Japan, with support from MGM Resorts International, aims to raise worldwide awareness of the art of kabuki.
In one highlight of the Las Vegas production, holographic animated images integral to the performance were projected onto walls of water created by the fountains.
To bring the images to life, Tokyo-based firm teamLab Inc. created the projection mapping of the images while Los Angeles-based water feature design firm WET choreographed the water effects.
A special stage was constructed inside Lake Bellagio for five performances of “Fight With a Carp” from Friday to Sunday.
Friday’s performance ran for about half an hour and with an estimated 10,000 people watching the show.
“The show was amazing. It’s definitely something different,” said 44-year-old Franco Avialano from Brazil. “The lighting, images, the acting, the music, everything . . . it was great, especially for my first kabuki experience.”
In May, Shochiku and MGM Resorts announced “Japan KABUKI Festival in Las Vegas 2015-2016,” which will include more kabuki performances in May 2016.
“Fight With a Carp” is meant to introduce the traditional performing art of kabuki as a brand-new, world-class entertainment, Shochiku said at that time.
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