honey suckle

honey suckle



Last Saturday evening, We went to Hakataza in Fukuoka City.  Hakataza is a theater reception center equipped to handle a multitude of musical programs including kabuki, musicals, Takarazuka Revue and new dramas as a genuine performance exhibition theater.  It was an hour drive from our house.

The entrance of Hakataza

Leading actors and actresses (double casts)

We saw a musical “Lady Bess,” by the world-renowned team of German writer Michael Kunze and Hungarian composer Sylvester Levay, with famed hit-maker Shuichiro Koike directing.
We really enjoyed the musical :-)

An introduction according to the article of 'The Japan Times'...

Considering the play is based on the life of Elizabeth I, the Queen of England from 1558-1603, before she was crowned at the tender age of 25, it’s exciting to imagine just how her astonishing tale might be staged. After all, when she was just 2½, her mother, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded by order of King Henry VIII, her husband and Elizabeth’s father, who then had their marriage annulled — which led to the girl being declared shamefully illegitimate. Then, with religious strife wracking the nation, Elizabeth’s own Catholic half-sister, Queen Mary I — who is notorious for having Protestants like Elizabeth burned at the stake — had her imprisoned for nearly a year.

Already four musicals by Kunze and Levay have been performed in Japan, with one in particular, “Elisabeth,” about the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, a major hit. After its Vienna premier in 1992, directed by Harry Kupfer, the show — in which the character Death plays a key role — was staged here in 1996 by the all-female Takarazuka Revue before being taken up, with a mixed cast, by the Tokyo-based Toho company. The former version has currently been performed 799 times, and the latter 1,067 times — with Koike directing both productions.

When I asked Kunze, 70, and 68-year-old Levay why they chose Elizabeth — one of whose nicknames as monarch was “Good Queen Bess” — as their subject this time, Kunze replied. “Well, the reason she brought glory to England is connected to the kind of wisdom that is needed even today. We want to show that if a talented woman can gain power, she can change the world.

“In the 16th century, the tolerance and open-mindedness to not force a religion on the citizens was a common sense Bess had acquired to avoid conflict and discrimination.”

In terms of his score, Levay explained, “I included Celtic music to evoke the atmosphere of the time and the region, though I wove in modern elements — just as Kunze, to create an image of a person that resonates with people today, didn’t stick strictly to history. So our goal was to create a stage with universality.”

As a result, the cast features both real characters and fictional ones such as Robin, a minstrel Bess falls in love with who seems to embody the exciting spirit of this era with its great voyages of discovery and the likes of William Shakespeare reshaping English culture.

“The free-spirited Robin is an artist who follows his heart. When Bess, then heir to the throne, meets him, he represents to her a different set of values from any she’s known. Of the characters in this work, he’s the one I’d like to become,” Kunze adds with a laugh. To which Levay dryly responds: “I’d like to be Robin’s best friend!”......

→ Official trailer (YouTube)

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