Japan’s famed Takarazuka Revue adds a touch of Taiwan for next tour there

Kyodo

The all-women Takarazuka Revue musical troupe says its Star Troupe will unveil a production inspired by a Taiwanese puppet show during its third tour of the island nation later this year.

Tomotsugu Ogawa, president of the Takarazuka Revue Company, told a news conference Friday in Taipei that the show, which will be performed Oct. 20 to 28 in Taipei and Nov. 2 to 5 in the southern city of Kaohsiung, will consist of two parts.

The first is a brand new production, “Thunderbolt Fantasy,” inspired by Pili, the glove puppetry shows that modernized the traditional Taiwanese puppet theater known as budaixi. Pili means thunderbolt in Chinese.

Chris Huang, chairman of Pili International Multimedia, which produces the show, said at the news conference that he is honored to work with Takarazuka.

“Takarazuka is a century-old Japanese theater troupe with national treasure status and budaixi is also a century-old Taiwanese puppet show,” Huang said. “Mixing the two century-old cultural forms creates something without limitation.”

The second part of the show will be a musical called “Killer Rouge” in which the Star Troupe’s leading performer, Yuzuru Kurenai, who plays a male character, can showcase her “personal charm,” the company said.

Asked to describe that charm, Kurenai laughed and said it was a tough question to answer because some of her qualities are clear to others but not to herself.

However, as a performer, Kurenai said she has always wanted to get as close to the audience as possible.

The October engagement will see Kurenai making her second tour of Taiwan, but her first as the Star Troupe’s headliner.

A series of 14 shows will be held at the National Theaters in Taipei, which seats 1,500 people, with six more to be held at the Kaohsiung Cultural Center, which can accommodate 1,700. Tickets will go on sale Wednesday.

Founded in 1913 by Ichizo Kobayashi, founder of Hankyu Railways, the troupe originally comprised a band of singing and dancing girls formed to help sell train tickets to the Takarazuka hot springs resort in Hyogo Prefecture.

The troupe attracts around 2.7 million people a year to its shows in Japan. It made its first overseas tour in 1938 and has performed in 18 countries and territories including China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Its first performance in Taiwan in 2013 generated sellout crowds, and it received many requests to perform again after its second tour in August 2015.