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English Title: Japan Overture
Japanese Title: 夜明けの序曲
Romanized Title: Yoake no Jokyoku
Performances: Takarazuka, 8/12 - 9/28; Tokyo, 11/7 - 12/5
Shinjin Kouen Performances: Grand Theater, 8/31 & 9/17; Tokyo Theater, 11/17
Authors: Ueda Shinji, Sakai Sumio
Directors: Ueda Shinji, Sakai Sumio
Music Composed/Adapted By: Terada Takio, Irie Kaoru, Takahashi Kuni
Choreography: Hanayagi Juraku, Kita Hiroshi, Oka Masami, Agata Youji, Kurotaki Tsukio
Shinjin Kouen Director:
Available on DVD: No
Other Cast: Kijou Tomoka, Mana Hiroka, Magiri Aya, Kotobuki Hizuru, Mari Hikaru, Hiroki Jun, Aki Kanou, Isono Chihiro, Maizumi Sari, Suzu Mine, Madoka Teru, Arisa Yuri, Miyabi Mari, Yuuki Kyou, Emi Chinatsu, Shiki Nanaho, Saho Masayo, Ryou Mio, Azusa Noboru, Mai Kunika, Aoyagi Yuki, Miori Yumino, Kiyo Masami, Yuki Azusa, Yuri Kaoru, Kishiro Natsuki, Towada Masumi, Sayo Akari, Wakafuji Rira, Mikage Shiori, Oozora Nozomi, Nashiro Erika, Fuyuzuki Shioka, Miyakono Sakura, Mizuhara Tamaki, Mitsuya Nao, Maya Miki, Hana Akari, Hana Akari, Kiyoka Shinobu, Natsukusa Kaori, Mari Itsuka, Kagami Chitose, Minami Kairi, Sakuragi Seiko, Ooki Hiroto, Hoshino Mutsumi, Sei Noboru, Yukikaze Rei, Kitami Mari, Mashiba Shun
Grand Theater only: Jin Natsumi, Kisaragi Mirei, Chiho Sayaka
- Some cast was absent from the Tokyo performance because they were participating in the Second East-Asian Tour.
WARNING!! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!
ACT ONE ~ MANHATTAN IN WINTER
April, the 32nd year of Meiji. The Kawakami Otojiro Troupe departs from the port of Kobe for the United States on board a trans-Pacific liner. Kawakami Otojiro, who leads a student theatrical troupe and who takes part in the movement for democracy, wins fame with a song of political criticism called "Oppekepe-bushi", but his dream is to go out into the world. Thirty years have passed since the Restoration, but traces of feudalism remains strong and Otojiro's grand ideals are not accepted by the public, which calls him a liar and swindler.
But Otojiro is supported by his wife, Sada, who believes in his dreams and remains faithful to him, and also by the members of his troupe, Takanami, Mikami, and Fujikawa. Sada is formerly a popular geisha in Kasumi-cho, and used to be the mistress of prime minister Ito Hirobumi. But she fell in love with Otojiro after seeing his plays, and quit her position to become his wife. She is prepared to bear any kind of hardship for Otojiro, whose actions are backed by his ideals, and is determined to travel to the States with him. Takanami Sadajiro, the young actor who is the sub-leader of the troupe, is also taken by Otojiro's strong character, and vows to accompany Otojiro towards their ideals. Although his aspiration is great, there is a harsh gap between it and reality, and the tour in the United States runs into difficulties. The troupe is forced to do without even enough money for food, yet they somehow manage to move eastward, making stops in Honolulu, San Francisco, and finally, New York.
But the news brought by Kushibiki Yumindo, the coordinator who had arrived before them, is not good. There is not a single theater in New York that is willing to let them perform. And to make the situation even worse for Otojiro and his troupe, already exhausted in body and spirit, Tsusaka Koichiro, an actor who is weak in constitution, becomes ill from the severe New York cold. Not only can they not bring him to a doctor, they cannot even feed him properly, and as the members of the troupe watch Tsusaka slowly weaken, they begin to lose hope.
The troupe finally finds a theater to perform in, but only on the condition that the role of "oyama" , the female role traditionally played by a man, be played by Sada, the only woman in the group. If this performance is successful, the troupe will be able to go to Europe and perform in the International Exposition in Paris. However, because female performers in Japan were despised and treated below prostitutes in those times, Otojiro cannot decide whether or not he should continue the tour by placing his wife in such a position.
ACT TWO ~ MONTMARTRE IN SPRING
The brilliant capital of Paris is in the middle of the International Exposition.
The Kawakami Otojiro Troupe, successful in both New York and London, receives high acclaim in Paris as well, and is performing daily before a packed audience. Curiosity towards Japanese Kabuki, and the beauty of Sada, who had become an actress to help her husband out of his predicament, were the reasons for their popularity in Paris. "Madame Sadayakko" is made much of among the circle of intellectuals and becomes the queen of society.
But contrary to this success, the relationship between Otojiro and Sada rapidly cools. Self-confidence stemming from her success as an actress awakens Sada as an independent individual. Seeing Sada like this, Otojiro thinks bitterly that the beautiful order of Japan and the way of Japanese women are breaking down.
Finally, the frustration they have been holding back explodes. Otojiro criticizes Sada's performance that has not improved since New York, and angrily tells her to stop being conceited from praise. In return, Sada points out that it is thanks to her that the troupe was saved, and asks why she is being reproached when the people of Paris love their performance. She tells him that he is jealous of her success. A deep crack opens between them.
Then, one day, Otojiro and Sada receive an invitation from Morgan, an exceptionally wealthy man. Morgan's wife Yuki is a former geisha from Gion in Kyoto. When Otojiro and Sada call on the Morgans, they are shown Yuki's Kyoto-style dance. After she finishes dancing, she tells them that the people of Paris are making much of the Kawakami Troupe only out of curiosity, and reminds Otojiro and his wife that true Kabuki is nothing like what they are showing. Yuki goes on to ask them that they return to Japan and use what they have learned in the West to make a fresh start back home.
Coming to his senses, Otojiro suggests to Sada that they return to Japan and start anew. He makes up his mind to popularize a new style of theater in Japan with Sada as the first actress.
- Final performance for Top Star Matsu Akira.
- Also the final performance for: Mana Hiroka, Kotobuki Hizuru, Hiroki Jun. And, at the Grand Theater: Jin Natsumi, Kisaragi Mirei, and Chiho Sayaka.
- Also performed in 1999, starring Aika Mire and Ootori Rei.
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