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Happy New Year~! I have time off work so I’m actually going to write up my thoughts on a show before a month after the fact. Somebody get me a gold star!

Grand Hotel
Here is where my getting into musicals through Takarazuka leaves me at a bit of a loss. I knew almost nothing about Grand Hotel the musical before I went in. I did however watch the 1936 movie, which was… not great. It’s choppy and the characters really aren’t fully realized people, which I supposed is the point of the movie. Either way, wasn’t a huge fan. Which is why I was surprised I enjoyed this musical as much as I did.

It’s very clearly a non-takarazuka work as they use a very standard set, designed per the copyright if I was a betting man. Which I may add means that they do not set foot on the ginkyou until the weird “curtain” call bit at the end. You don’t realize that it’s weird that it’s lacking until you get to the end of Tamakichi steps off the stage and onto the hananomichi and then the ginkyo and then your brain sort of short circuts in a “OH..” way.
For me, in the movie, and the original play I believe, the main character is Otto and the typist Flemm. However, in a very Takarazuka way, they decided to throw that out. Otto is played by the nibante, and Flemm played by essentially the musumeyaku nibantes. The main character is now the Baron, played by Tamaki Ryou and the aging ballerina  Elizaveta Grushinskaya was played by Manaki Reika.

I think it wasn’t as awkward as it could have been, switching the main characters. I think in some way the casting made sense given that the Baron is very much the standard The Otokoyaku role and is much easier on Tamakichi than Otto would have been. It wasn’t such a leap for her to play an egotistical seemingly wealthy young man.  While Otto would have added stress to her already stressful debut experience. I mean, Tommy Tune was in the audience for opening day.  She got a safer role, a better outfit and wasn’t left standing in the shadow of Suzukaze  Mayo for her debut.

Chapi as Elizaveta was pure perfection. She flounces onstage with all the grace, ego and poise required as the aging ballerina with the ego the size of a small country. You instantly take a shine to her despite yourself. She’s flouncing around, dramatically draping herself on across every surface in her room repeating no encore with all the passion of someone whose life hangs on the balance of there being that call from the audience. Without it she is nothing, and in that moment you can almost feel her pain.

Attached to Chapi as her assistant, secret flame holding assistant was Chisei Atsuki in the version I saw. I have such a complicated relationship with Ari, and this role did her no favors. She was playing a skirt role, and she just… didn’t.  She was a man in dress. Zero effort on her voice, zero effort in attempting to acting it anyway other than default face, everything was otokoyaku. She was an otokoyaku in a dress, and a disappointing one at that. She has such immense talent but at every turn she seems to be thwarted by her inability to move her face in any particular way. She can out sing most of tsukigumi right now, but she just falls flat because that’s it. This role was the same. She’s singing a song about being devoted to Elizaveth while she stands in the background putting on her pointe shoes and starts to dance. It was good, but it should have been amazing.

The role of Otto was given to Miyaruri, befitting her place (finally) as proper nibante. And honestly, I think Miyaruri blew this role away, and with it stole the show for me. She was every inch the meek, sickly frustrated bookkeeper. Her songs were all both well done. I’m so proud that she stuck this fight out and is getting roles that are amazing and pushing her to be better.

Wakaba was Flemm in the opening day casting. Oh Wakaba. I just keep expecting her to get better than she has. She’s nibante musumeyaku in name and casting and she just falls flat for me. She danced the dances and walked the walked but it’s just so forced that I can’t get over it. I spent most of her numbers looking forward to getting to see them done by Umino, who is sharing the role with her.

Overall prducation wise, this follows the broadway version in terms of set design. It is ramped up for the sake of sheer amount of people but overall the same. I assume this was a copyright decision. That means that this was a glorious  show in terms of watching it. The entire cast spends almost the entire show onstage doing stuff. The downside of it is that it leaves a lot of people onstage doing nothing except being human filler. Very few babies get a chance to shine or do anything more than “oh she was the bartender that got to actually do something” type of role. Baby spotting is hard to down right impossible.

Carousel Rondo

We started the New Year at the Grand Theatre with a Inaba Daichi show. Which I keep having high hopes for, but he just can’t seem to keep his Fantasia/Luna Rossa vibe going for me. That being said, this show was really fun and if you bias is in it then I’m sure you will walk away really satisfied. Especially anyone who has a soft spot for Miyaruri because she has officially been made nibante, feathers and all.

Takawiki summary:
This "revue romance" of impressively interweaving dance routines on an elegant and glitzy stage celebrates the 90th anniversary of "Mon Paris," the first revue in Japan. In "Mon Paris," a carousel of wooden horses imbued with life circle the Earth's entirety along an axis, as if the steeds are on an endless journey dancing a rondo round the world. While "Mon Paris" portrays them departing from Japan for Paris, audiences will be treated to a rich variety of scenes as they watch a herd leaving Paris for Takarazuka on a world tour. Tamaki Ryou leads a reborn Moon Troupe that is vibrant and powerful in this thoroughly mesmerizing revue.
This show opens to the curtain lifting to a grouping of carousel horses on the center of the stage and the ceiling of the theatre lighting up with a projection of the cosmos, moving and twinkling down on us. This, as per the summary of the show, is a huge part to the show. The horses are almost always onstage in various ways, watching as we tour the world with Moon Troupe.

Hanagata Hikaru opens the revue as the circus master. I think that’s the word for it? I can’t remember at this point, I’ve been here too long. My obscure vocabulary knowledge is slowly dying –sigh- the sacfices we make for the sake of the sparkles. Anyway, it opens with Mitsuru.  It’s been so long since Mitsuru has been in a grand theatre show that I’ve forgotten how much I didn’t miss it. Bless her heart, she tries hard to be a singer, but she is so much more suited to acting.

Enter the rest of the cast as “White Horse Gentlemen/ladies” in Paris, which I mentally translated to “Ladies and Gentlemen on white horses”. I was thinking, oh we are going to get some prince charming and princess like costumes for the opening. Oh boy was I wrong. They meant horses, literally. They all came out decked out in white revue costumes with curly white manes.  The opening then travels through the Atlantic Ocean before the scene ends.

Up next is the New York scene, which lord give me strength, was my favorite scene of the entire show to be honest. It’s a nightclub, and Chapi is the lead performer of a group of scantily clad seductresses. She opens this scene with “Welcome Ladies and… Ladies”. Which had me and my friends chuckling, given the daily audience of a Takarazuka show is largely women. Chapi continues to be one of the strongest musumeyaku dancers we have in the lineup of top musumeyaku and this scene showcases that. She manages to be sexy, command the entire stage and not be upstaged by the giant light up American flag that descendended as the background to this scene.

This show ends with a train dance, in which otokoyaku and musumeyaku come out carrying wheels and creating a train. I enjoyed that this had a lot of underclassmen in it that got to show their stuff dancing. It’s the first time I’ve seen some of the underclassmen get to do anything, and I enjoyed it. Shoutout to Kashiro Aoi who can in fact dance decently well, even when standing behind Chisei the original Dancing Baby.

After this we head to Mexico. Did you think we were safe from culturally insensitive Takarazuka costumes and dancing? Ha. This number was fun in a ‘holy shit I didn’t know the citrus kaze latin costumes had a billion doubles’. I’m sad to say they do, and I know this because the entire cast is decked out in varying shades of neon and polkdots with more ruffles than anyone ever needs to see in one place.

From Mexico we head farther down into South America and we find ourselves complete with carousel horses in Brazil. This is probably one of my favorite numbers, which is 200 percent because Chapi is wearing the best thing I’ve seen in Takarazuka costumes in a long time. She’s wearing a full on Carnival Costume, as is Tamakichi. But as we know I’m in it for the True Top of Tsukigumi, Manaki Reika. It’s so sparkly, it even has the rhinestone shin guards. She literally sparkles from the toes of her feet to the top of her giant feathered wings. I’m trash and loved this number on this fact alone.
This scene ends in full on entire cast samba on the Ginkyo. Which for me was particularly hilarious because you can instantly tell who really likes the Samba, and those who really hate the samba number. It this tasteful or offesnisve? I don’t even know at this point. I’m going to leave that up to somebody who actually knows something about the culture to weigh in. Until then I’m going to leave it as is.

Following this we have a “Silk Road” number, featuring Miyaruri as the lead. Mayupon and Sachika have the kage solo for this, and the background looks like an Aladdin. The costumes for the silk dancers however look like a pastel mess, but it didn’t make the entire scene suffer.

After this number we have the rockettes. Which apparently one baby missed her queue and made the poor kid behind her eat feathers when she rushed to make up for her mistake. I’m sad I missed it, mostly so I can adopt that fail child as one of my derps. Welcome, I’ll drop of cookies for every failure my child. Haha.

After this we have what I consider the highlight to the entire show, which is the finale opening up as we return to Takarazuka. The finale scenes were all choregraphed by  Kazumi-boy and as such are wonderful and very classic. Tamakichi on the center of the stage, musumeyaku spread out behind her hiding behind white feather fans to create wings. From there it goes into a beautiful musumeyaku number in which they wear white. After that the otokoyaku come down and kill it.  I did a double-take following their entrance because they were so on point. It’s such a lovely finale. –wistful sigh-  Very classic Takarazuka in a way that doesn’t leave it feeling dated and out of touch.

Overall I don’t think this show worked for me because you can see the parts of Inaba-sensei that were warring against each other in this show. He wanted to really try and mimic the more modern styling of Fantasia, but then found himself limited and pulled back to this 90th anniversary of Mon Paris theme. So you get this overall disjointed whiplash effect that for me was very mediocre feeling. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either. I walked out thinking god I am takarazuka trash because I liked that, and had my friend walking out of the theare going why the hell do I even like Takarazuka?

But yeah. I see shows. I put words on the internet sometime. Not very often, but sometimes.

Date: 2017-01-03 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snow-poppy.livejournal.com
*Ringmaster -- close! It's totally okay though I am also forgetting too many words and then rely on awkward translations from Japanese to English dictionaries.

"Welcome, Ladies and...Ladies!" *snickers* A little bummed about another Inaba-sensei revue not living up to Fantasia or Mr. Swing but I will likely accept it.

Ah I'm sooo excited for this!! I think my ticket is for Cast C but may try for tsuika or toujitsuken if Aasa blows away Raffaela.

But first Konjiki ...

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