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Sunday, March 19, 2000

She walks! She talks! She dances!

Staff writer

The Hello Kitty logo is ubiquitous. She is everywhere, on everything, from pencil cases and T-shirts to cellular phones and suitcases. Without a doubt, Hello Kitty is a globally recognized icon, but in a musical revue directed by Amon Miyamoto, she becomes more than just a logo. She is given life. She talks. She moves. She even tap dances.

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the indoor amusement park, the revue opened March 10 at Sanrio Puroland in the Tokyo suburb of Tama Center.

One of the leading directors of musicals in Japan, Miyamoto, 42, made his debut with "I Got Merman" in 1987. In an interview, Miyamoto said he was delighted when Sanrio Puroland invited him to direct "1 [One] Hello Kitty Dream Revue."

"Kitty is a lovable character that makes anyone feel at ease," said Miyamoto. "Kitty doesn't have a strong character, so each and everyone of us can have his/her own image of Kitty."

Nevertheless, Miyamoto said he wanted to develop her character for the revue. "The history of Kitty hadn't been made clear until now. So details like where she was born, what happened in her life and so on were made clear," said Miyamoto.

The revue begins with a recounting of Kitty's birth, delivered by the narrator, Hakase, a learned man whose voice-over is done by well-known musical actor Akira Takarada. The storyline follows the life of Kitty White, depicting her family and following her from birth to her marriage to her longtime boyfriend Daniel. Its main theme is Kitty's pursuit of a dream to become a concert pianist.

The whole revue is colored with various types of dance and upbeat music. (The catchy theme song was composed and sung by Japanese hitmaker Komi Hirose.)

Miyamoto said that he was a stickler for detail, including the costumes, lighting and set design, in order to make the show as spectacular as possible.

"I wanted to make a show that every member of the family can enjoy. I also wanted the revue to be both fully entertaining and educational for children," he said. "I was brought up seeing real entertainment and that's what has made who I am today (as a director), so I would like to present real entertainment to the children of today."

Directing revues comes easy to Miyamoto, since he began his career as a dancer/choreographer. But following his stint with Kitty, he says he will go back to directing musicals. "Musicals are really fantastic. I'm so glad to have been able to make musicals in the 20th century, the century that musicals were born," he said.

The director said that he has only fulfilled 20 percent of his goals so far. They are: to make one good show in his 20s; to be at the top of the theater world in his 30s; to make a name for himself globally in his 40s, and in his 50s, to direct a long-running show in Tokyo.

"Now, I'm actually just at the starting point," he said.

"1 [One] Hello Kitty Dream Revue" will be presented until March 2001 at Marchen Theater in Sanrio Puroland, near Tama Center. For more information, call (042) 339-1111 or visit the Web site (www.sanrio.co.jp/PUROLAND)

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