Japan's All-Female Takarazuka Musical Revue Takes on Abraham Lincoln
posted on by Eric Stimson
The Takarazuka Revue, an all-female musical theater troupe, is an icon of Japanese culture and has taken on Western stories, both original and classic, in the past. Its latest offering turns to American history for inspiration.
For the People - Lincoln, Jiyū wo Motometa Otoko- ("The Man Who Called for Freedom") portrays the life of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US president. While recent portrayals such as Steven Spielberg's Lincoln and Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter have kept Lincoln's image fresh in American culture, he is a distant figure in Japan, known mostly for the "government of the people, by the people, for the people" line in his Gettysburg Address. According to the revue's website, his "frontier spirit and proud ideals are even now strongly carved into the breast of many Americans." The musical will dramatically portray his turbulent life and how his policies and ideals managed to first divide and later unite America.
The play will be performed by the Flower Troupe (Hanagumi), considered the most prestigious, and directed by Ryō Harada, who has previously directed musicals about Al Capone and war photographer Robert Capa. Lincoln will be played by Yu Todoroki, who has previously played the title character in Oedipus the King. For the People will play at the Umeda Arts Theater Drama City in Osaka from February 13 to 23 and at the KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theater in Yokohama from March 4 to 10. Tickets for the Osaka showing can be bought here for 7,800 yen; tickets for the Yokohama showing can be bought on January 31 for either 7,800 yen ($66) or 5,000 yen ($42).
Takarazuka has had a substantial influence on anime and manga. Osamu Tezuka was heavily influenced by Takarazuka's theatricality and anime like Rose of Versailles and Revolutionary Girl Utena have been adapted for the Takarazuka stage. Recent anime/manga adaptations have included Rurouni Kenshin and Lupin III.