A Typical Performance
A typical performance at one of the main theaters consists of both a musical and a revue show. (Note: Japanese fans tend to use the word "show" exclusively for the revue half. The musical / story half is called the oshibai, meaning a performance with acting rather than just singing and dancing.) The musical is generally similar to a Western musical, with a continuous storyline, a spoken script interspersed with song and dance numbers, beautiful costumes (the top stars get the most ornate and detailed costumes) and elaborate sets. The revue show is a set of song and dance numbers, mostly, with outrageous Vegas-style costumes, lots of feathers, and intricate choreography. In general the musical runs about an hour and a half, and the revue about an hour. One night per run of a show, the junior members of the troupe will put on their version of the musical, with seito ken-7 and under cast in the main roles (see shinjin kouen.) This gives the younger actresses some valuable stage and star experience, and equally valuable exposure to the public.
The Revue puts on a wide variety of shows, from adaptations of Western musicals such as Guys and Dolls and West Side Story, to musical versions of Western movies like Gone with the Wind, and Ocean's 11, to traditional Asian storylines (Japanese, Chinese, and Korean) that are less familiar to Western audiences. Sometimes they make up their own storylines, or take specific historical figures (JFK, Abraham Lincoln, James Dean, etc) and perform musical biographies of their lives. The shows are heavily influenced by Western culture.
The structure of the stage in the Grand Theater and Tokyo Takarazuka Theater is designed to allow great versatility and access to the stars. The fire curtains are often especially designed for specific performance. There are several lifts at various places onstage, which are used both for sets and for the stars' entrances and exits. The entire center portion of the stage was built as a separate circular rotating platform, so the sets can occasionally be rotated in a slow circle in the middle of the show. The orchestra pit is surrounded in front by a narrow strip of stage, about a yard wide, that the Revue calls the “silver bridge”. Often the blocking of both the musical and the revue show requires the actresses to walk out onto the bridge for dialogue or during certain songs, allowing those in the front row to get an amazingly up-close view. The silver bridge has steps leading down to the aisles, and the actresses sometimes enter the audience. One of the most famous aspects of the Takarazuka stage is the Grand Staircase that is rolled out during the finale (and occasionally during the revue numbers) for the stars to walk down, or dance on. This stairway has a line of lights on each step, and occasionally has other special lighting effects.
Each troupe puts on approximately two shows per year at the Takarazuka Grand Theater and Tokyo Takarazuka Theater. Throughout the rest of the year they do other performances at Bow Hall (a smaller theater in Takarazuka), Theater Drama City (a theater in Osaka), Nippon Seinenkan, and other theaters around the country. Occasionally they will do national tours and international tours.
(See General Information: Takarazuka Revue or General Information: Going to See a Show for more information.)