Fiddler on the Roof…in Japanese

Japanese musicals: So far off Broadway, they’re an art form in themselves

There’s nothing more entertaining than a good old-fashioned musical, performed by an all-Japanese cast. Boggle along with me as they tackle these classics of stage and screen…

Mozart-san

Poster for the Japanese stage production of Amadeus

Yep, it’s the thoroughly be-wigged, all-Japanese production of Amadeus.

Just a spoonful of nattō makes the medicine go down…

Poster for the Japanese stage production of Mary Poppins

In the land where nannies are nearly as scarce as chimney sweeps, this all-Japanese celebration of bygone British privilege would be worth the price of admission just to hear them sing “sūpa-cari-furaja-risutikku-ekusupi-ari-dōshasu.

Tevye-san

Poster for the Japanese stage production of Fiddler on the Roof

I’d like to meet the yenta who put this one together. The all-Japanese Fiddler on the Roof is an act of cultural mayhem so complete, I can’t even.

Jack the Ripper: The Musical

Poster for the Japanese stage production of Jack the Ripper: The Musical

You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?

In his purple crushed velvet, bejeweled fake fur (not to mention slashed to the navel) shirt, the Japanese version of the elusive old serial killer comes off as slightly more of a gay blade than history gives him credit for. But it gets better – this isn’t the original production. The world premiere was actually in Korean, which not only featured a Jack who could double for a fey Inigo Montoya, all the cops were soap opera eye candy as well…

Poster for the Korean stage production of Jack the Ripper: The Musical

It’s just a jump to the left…

Poster for the Takurazaka stage production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show

What does it say about the weirdness of Japanese musical theater that the least surprising adaptation is…the Rokē Hora Shō?

And in a class all by themselves, the all-female stage company Takurazaka puts on the best east-west gender-bendy musicals of all. In their productions, not only are all foreigners played by Japanese, all men are played by women.

Ocean’s Eleven: All-New, All-Japanese And All-Female!

Poster for the Takurazaka stage production of Ocean's Eleven

From left to right: Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Shaobo Qin, and Don Cheadle.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn (that we’re both female and Japanese)

Poster for the Takurazaka stage production of Gone With The Wind

Mustachioed and corseted and ready to kick some Civil War butt! After playing the handsome male scalawags of Ocean’s Eleven, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine a dashing Rhette-ette sweeping Scarlett off her feet, but one does wonder how the all-Japanese cast portrayed the roles of Mammy, Pork and Prissy.

Honest Abe gets an extreme makeover

Poster for the Takurazaka stage production of For The People

Move over, Rhett Butler. One of the Takarazuka actresses donned beard and top hat to portray America’s most gangly abolitionist.

Gonna Wash That Woman Right Out Of My Hair

Poster for the Takurazaka stage production of South Pacific

At first, an all-Japanese, all-female, stage production of South Pacific doesn’t seem any weirder than a Japanese Mozart or a female Abe…until you remember that the characters in this play are not only undeniably male, they’re also fighting against, uh, THE JAPANESE.

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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