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Friday, June 10, 2011

Miyamoto piece to open up Yokohama to Broadway gem

Special to The Japan Times

The first Broadway musical directed by a Japanese person will be performed in Yokohama from June 17 to July 3.

"Pacific Overtures" ("Taiheiyo Jokyoku" in Japanese) will be directed by Amon Miyamoto and was first staged in Tokyo in October 2000. The piece was performed with an American cast in New York's famed Broadway theater district in November 2004. The musical was nominated for four Tony Awards in 2005, including the Best Revival of a Musical award.

This time, "Pacific Overtures" will be staged with a Japanese cast at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre in Yokohama.

The play takes place at the end of the Edo Period (1603-1867), when Western powers came to Japan and forced the nation to open up to the world. The main character is a samurai named Kayama who is ordered by the Tokugawa government to negotiate with American officials led by U.S. Navy Cmdr. Matthew C. Perry.

The role of the hero, Kayama, is played by Norito Yashima. Yashima has been acting in theaters since 1990. He has also been in TV dramas, movies and has played the role of MC in popular TV shows such as NHK's "Eigo de Shaberanaito" ("Let's Speak in English Night") and Fuji Television's "Toribia no Izumi."("Trivia Fountain.")

Manjiro's role is played by Taro Yamamoto. Yamamoto made his debut as actor in the movie titled "Daida Kyoshi" in 1991. He has acted in many films, TV dramas and TV shows.

After March 11 disasters, Yamamoto commented on the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis and announced his opposition to nuclear power. But because of his anti-nuke stance, Yamamoto was forced to quit his role in a TV drama last month, according to his Twitter account.

According to Daily Sports, Miyamoto, the director of the musical, said that Yamamoto has the spirit of loving and saving Japan, which suits the role of Manjiro in "Pacific Overtures."

"Pacific Overtures" runs from June 17 to July 3 at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre in Yokohama. The venue is a five-minute-walk from Nihon-odori Station on the Minatomirai Line. Tickets cost from ¥4,500 to ¥8,500. For reservations and more information, visit www.po2011.jp.

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