The winning troupe gets a shot at an official performance!
4 troupes perform a musical filled with love for their home
Did you know that in the Kanagawa Prefecture, there are about 20 groups of musical troupes who have their home base in this area?
The prefecture of Kanagawa works with the organization “Magnet Culture,” or MagCul for short, a group that works to energize the local area by attracting visitors and residents with the beauty of culture and art. As a part of these activities, the Kanagawa Prefecture on January 29th hosted an open-to-the-public competition for the “Chigeki Musical,” a work filled with love for the local area. The performers consisted of 4 troupes which passed the first round of auditions. Because the winning troupe has the chance to officially perform this show during the summer, all troupes performed passionately on the stage.
The 3 judges included Mr. Norimasa Fujisawa (singer), Mr. Keiji Sugimoto (Zepp Inc., Concert Representative Executive Committee Head) and Mr. Shinichi Katsuno (Film Theater Culture General Incorporated Association Vice Director of the Theater Enterprise Musical Academy Director). Before the performance, the prefectural governor Yuji Kurosawa gave a speech, saying, “We wish to further grow musicals rooted in local areas. We want to attract audiences to Chigeki musicals in the time that people from all around the world will be visiting, in events such as the Tokyo Olympics.”
Yokohama Residents’ Children Musical
“Yokohama 3 Tower Cat Story”
The first contestant is the “Yokohama Citizens’ Children Musical” which celebrates its fourth year as a troupe. The musical portrays the love of a family of cats, with the “Yokohama 3 Towers” including the King, Queen and Jack that watch over the city of Yokohama as the storytellers.
A male cat, Shin, loses the hope to live upon the death of his mother. Shin starts to remember a legend saying, “If you make a wish at a place where you can see the Yokohama 3 Towers at the same time, your wish will come true.” Meanwhile, his sister Mei falls off a cliff……!
The work incorporates local episodes of Kanagawa such as the Yokohama 3 Towers and the Dancing Hall of Cats, resulting in a cute musical with many cat characters. The audience members in the hall gave a huge round of applause to the energetic dances of children dressed up as cats.
Yokosuka Residents’ Group to Create Musicals (SUKA Mu)
“Here’s your World! ～A night at the Yokosuka Art Museum～”
The following act was performed by “Yokosuka Residents’ Group to Create Musicals” participating from Yokosuka. They performed a fantasy musical set in the Yokosuka Art Museum at night.
It seems that at the Yokosuka Art Museum, the figures inside paintings are escaping the paintings and moving around freely every night. One night, during a total lunar eclipse, a female student who loves fairy tales visits the museum. Although she wants to become an author of fairy tales, she seems to be concerned about real life outside of stories. On the other hand, the stepmother of “Snow White” that has escaped from a painting wishes to be a human. The 2 switch places, and the student becomes trapped inside a painting!
Since the Yokosuka Art Museum has a hall dedicated to local painter Rokuro Taniuchi, his paintings also make an appearance inside the play. The songs which promoted the tourist sights around the city and the performance using the frames of the paintings were particularly memorable.
Moja Moja Head and Hera Hera Glasses
“Country of Japan Yokohama Ohama-sama”
“Moja Moja Head and Hera Hera Glasses” is a talented performance group with impressive accomplishments such as winning first place in “Gekiou Kanagawa III, IV” and third place in the “Kanagawa Kamome Short Theater Fair.” With Mr. Nobuhiro Sasaura, otherwise known as “Moja Moja Head,” as the producer, and Ms. Shoko Kawada, who is known as “Hera Hera Glasses” as the playwright, the cast was a combination of prominent professional actors and current high school students.
At the Honmoku Juniten High School Theater Club, club members were planning to perform a piece about the “Chabuya,” a hotel with prostitutes that used to exist in Honmoku. However, the school administration refuses to permit the performance, saying that “it is not school appropriate.” Takako, the playwright who wrote this piece, is convinced by the passionate club president Saki to at least read through the script together. With that, the story of a night at the legendary Chabuya “Ukiyo Hotel” starts to unfold……
The plot was very rhythmical, with the past and the present intersecting effectively, and the 30 minute performance passed by in a blink of an eye. The erotic review of Meriken Ohama and other women at the Chabuya left audience members sighing with awe. The powerful performance such as the dancers whose delicate carefulness reached their fingertips, the singing voices that could be heard all the way down to the back of the audience seats, and the creative performances using the audience seats, enchanted the entire hall.
Niji no Kuni (Land of Rainbows) Musical Company
“Musical: Mr. Palmer!”
The final performance is by the “Niji no Kuni Musical Company” who is active around the Ebina/ Atsugi/ Sagamihara areas. The title, “Mr. Palmer!” refers to Henry S. Palmer, who came to Japan during the Meiji era and completed the “Yokohama Waterline.” The musical looks back on Yokohama during this point in history, and celebrates Palmer’s accomplishments.
Early-Meiji Yokohama was suffering from a lack of water and the low quality of water. There were also times when cholera spread throughout the city, leaving many people dead. Mr. Palmer, who came to Japan from England during this time, accepted the request by the Kanagawa Prefecture to construct a waterline. Mr. Palmer convinced many people who had never even seen waterlines before, and brought safe water to many people around Yokohama. His efforts brought back the smiles of the people at Yokohama.
Discussing and celebrating the works of Palmer, a part of history that many people from Kanagawa don’t even know, is an accomplishment that is unique to Chigeki musicals. The powerful singing and the dances by performers dressed in kimono created a passionate and emotional stage.
Finally, the judges announce the winners!
As the performances of the 4 troupes came to a close, 11 groups performed a kids dance show. As we waited for the results, the kids dancers who perform in the pre-shows of Disney concerts presented some cute, and some cool dances.
Before the results are announced, the judges gave a general feedback.
“All the musicals spoke directly to our hearts. I realized how wonderful entertainment through song and theater is, and was extremely moved” (Mr. Norimasa Fujisawa)
“I was surprised that all the troupes had a deep understanding of what Chigeki was. I was able to gain a rich understanding of the traditions and history of Kanagawa. Winning and losing are not important, and I want all the troupes to take this opportunity to continue creating even better works” (Mr. Keiji Sugimoto)
“There are even more troupes in the prefecture alone performing musicals. Although musicals still are a relatively new form of art in Japan, the talent it demands is extremely high. All the performers were lively, and it was a wonderful experience. Please continue to communicate this happiness and sense of having fun to as many people as possible” (Mr. Shinichi Katsuno)
It seemed that all three judges felt a great potential in Chigeki musicals.
Finally, the results. The winner is “Country of Japan Yokohama Ohama-sama” by “Moja Moja Head and Hera Hera Glasses”!! The level of the performance that surpassed the other contestants made Mr. Katsuno praise, “The way the story was shown was refined, and it was easy as an audience member to become immersed in the narrative. The music was especially wonderful.”
The producer Mr. Nobuhiro Sasaura sent us words of joy, saying, “I am genuinely happy. I had always been working in theater as Kanagawa as the home base, but this work was a collection of all of our efforts until now. We want to continue creating Chigeki musicals that are rooted in the local area.”
In the summer, the long version of “Country of Japan Yokohama Ohama-sama” will be performed as the official performance. Please look forward to witnessing the Chigeki musical that will be even more brushed up!
In part 2, we will provide you with interviews with the singer Mr. Norimasa Fujisawa who was a judge, Mr. Nobuhiro Sasaura in “Moja Moja Head and Hera Hera Glasses,” and Ms. Kumiko Noda who played the lead role. Please look forward to it!