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Takarazuka CHICAGO Cast Members Interview
“All Japanese, All Women, All that Jazz! We interviewed three cast members of Takarazuka CHICAGO who preformed in the Lincoln Center Festival in 2016. They are first cast members who began this challenge back in 2012.”
Perfomance Dates: July 20th-24th 2016
In July 2016, All Japanese, All Women, All that Jazz was preformed in the Lincoln Center Festival. Shizuki, Kozuki, and Asami, these three cast members were the first to try this challenge of preforming some scenes of Chicago on Dancin’ Crazy 2 which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Takarazuka Revue. Later that challenge let them preform full scenes of Chicago in Japan, then finally.. they would preform in NY!
1. In 2012, these three cast members acted out some famous scenes from Chicago in the Takarazuka OG festival, “Dancin’ Crazy 2.”
We asked about their first try on Chicago world.
For me, playing Billy in the Chicago musical was one of most hard challenges after my graduation from Takarazuka.
Through preforming, I gradually found that androgynous aspect of Chicago. Chicago has androgynous characters like Mary Sunshine. (A male actor plays as a woman in this role) So I felt that Chicago seemed to fit our style which is based on Takarazuka Revue. (These three actors often played male roles in Takarazuka Revue.)
I also feel that the Chicago musical has an aspect which is above sexuality.
About our dance, there is an episode in which we suddenly got switch from “Fosse Style” to “Takarazuka style” dance. On set rehearsal, all of us suddenly danced overly because we used to dance dynamically in Takarazuka Revue on stage. At that time, choreographer Gary Christ asked us to trust “Fosse Style” which dancers express themselves more minimally and edgily, like just moving one finger quietly.
I was a fan of Chicago the musical and Bob Fosse. Every time the CHICAGO broadway casts played in Japan, I used to go see their show. But there were so many things which I had never realized about Chicago until I actually did it myself. For dancing softly as Fosse Style, lots of muscles are required for dancers. I still remember that our dancer members gradually got more and more muscular. (SHIZUKI: Yes, even dancer members did dumbbell training! )
2. That first try on Chicago was successful, then they got a chance to preform full scenes of Chicago in Japan. What did you feel when you knew that?
Playing full scenes of Chicago meant that we needed to focus on preforming with skill. So I faced a problem - the difference between Otoko- yaku (Male Role in Takarazuka Revue) and Male Role in Chicago. I had to be a Man, not Otoko-yaku. It was actually so hard. In Chicago, there are lots of rules we need to follow. Firstly we need to make those rules and skills as part of ourselves perfectly. After that we can try our own individual senses. I really wanted to overcome these rules to reach the next step: showing my sense as Billy.
When I heard that we could do full scenes, I felt that our sense from Otoko-yaku got admitted. I also felt so because I found our gentlemen dancers looked so nice in Fossey Style costumes. They looked great, like androgynous boys who were neither women nor men. Through looking them, I felt certain that our play would be a success.
I remember that gentlemen dancers really seemed to worry about sexuality in Chicago. They seemed to struggle with dilemma that they were required to perform as Men, not Otoko-yaku.
3. About Fashion points on Chicago Musical
My part, Billy, has a carnation on his suit, he also has a ring. You know, Billy sings about his ring in his song.
I ordered oversized shoes because I wanted to make it balance as a style. I put lots of stuffing in my suits, so I thought shoes should be oversized as well. I want to perform as a Man, so this is important part of my costume. (ASAMI: Yes, as male role, Mr. Amos also wears bigger shoes!)
My part Velma, has two costumes. These costumes are simple in design, but I feel that this costume shows her strength and the power of her character. The skirt length was arranged by Gary, he carefully considered the skirt length to keep her classy.
Roxy has three costumes. My favorite one is a beautiful race on sleeves. I really need to hurry for chaining costumes. Even I really in hurry for changing, race point never got broken because that fabric is soft and so strong! In Fashion points, there are also many rules. Roxy and Velma needed to wear Grain diamond earrings. Roxy's nails needed to be painted OPI's “big apple” color. That color is so cute. Roxy keeps wearing her wedding ring from first scene to last. It is interesting, right?
4. Then NY performing came true!
Mizuki Oura, legendary Takarazuka Dancer, who brought Takarazuka Revue playing in NY to a great success and was also main star for Dancin’ Crazy which is a predecessor of Takarazuka Chicago. We asked their thoughts on Mizuki Oura:
Takarazuka was created by many ancestors more than hundreds of years ago. I'm really happy that our home ground Takarazuka could make this happened.
In 1992, Mizuki Oura played in Joyce Theater in NY, and I joined that performance. I got inspired by her of course, and I feel that we preformed Chicago with her.
Amazing dancer, Mizuki Oura, Dancin’ Crazy started from her. So I know that she is really happy that we are playing Chicago in NY!
5. Do you have idea that you want to try performing in Broadway plays?
Two years ago, I joined a curtain call with the original NY cast on Broadway. I got really, really nervous, but had a great time. This time, we all perform as Takarazuaka OG. I think that it would be nice if Takrazuka OG would pass severe Broadway auditions and have a chance to show on broadway.
I had a chance to share time with veteran broadway star, Amra-Faye Wright for almost one month. (Kozuki played Velma in Broadway's Chicago company when they had a tour in Japan last year) I really got impressed to see how she keeps training. I faced her own psychological and physical strength. Through seeing her professionality, I felt there are lots of things I should learn from her.
To preform in NY is my goal and playing Chicago at this time is like a dream. I want to keep strictly being prepared for this play and I want to do my best. I want to take an effort more and more, as much as Broadway casts!
6. To introduce Takarazuka revue, there is a 20 minutes special revue: Takarazuka Enchole. Please tell us about that.
I feel that I have a role to introduce Takarazuka revue because I grew up and started my career there.
All our members who used to be Otoko-yaku, their facial expressions totally change when they do Otoko-yaku. Yes, we have switch to Otoko-yaku. I hope NY audiences will enjoy the difference between Chicago’s classic black and Takarazuka colorfulness!
I feel that I am here because of Takarazuka. I would like to appeal our home ground Takarazuka Revue to world, and unique Otoko-yaku also. Otoko-yaku has a special sense in which they show atmosphere from their back. Their back would tell their sadness or sorrow.
Kuroenbi, this is very Takrazuka Otoko-yaku style. Please focus on that. And also you would see big difference between men's role and Otoko-yaku on show. Billy's expressions and atmosphere would be totally different form Chicago.
7. Please give a message to our NY audience!
I am really looking forward to seeing the NY audience whom we can meet soon. I hope to show our own world, a new world by TAKARAZUKA OG!
I'm really happy to be invited for the Lincoln Center Festival! I would like all NY audience to enjoy our play.
I always feel that theater performance should be composite art created by us and our audience. I want to feel the reaction and mood from the audience, then I hope to collaborate with our NY audience! Please look forward to collaborating with us in Lincoln Center.
Later on July 20th, it was their first show at Lincoln Center. Of course I went to see their performance.
An old guy had a seat next to me. He told me, “I am really glad to be able to see their performance. I have been attracted by Chicago Musical world for almost 20 years!” That guy had really great smile!" We enjoyed the show together.
PRODUCER/WRITTEN BY AYAMI OKURA
EDIT BY SUSAN SCHELL
PRODUCER ASSISTANT: YU WATANABE
PHOTOGRAPHY: CHIAKI KATO