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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Shingo Katori Talks Somewhat Like Singing [2009 Back Post]

NEW YORK, January 3 – I know it’s the New Year, and I should be posting new material. But, I had a back log of blog articles from the end of 2009 that I never got the chance to post. They were neglected mostly because of time. This is the first article in a series of “back posts” that I will try to fit into the month of January.

On November 21, 2009, I attended a showing of the live Japanese musical named TALK LIKE SINGING at New York University. The production was the brain child of comedic playwright Kōki Mitani (三谷幸喜). Mitani who is known primarily for his Japanese plays penned a playful bilingual musical (Japanese/English) about language.

The story is about a boy who is unable to speak but has the capacity to communicate through singing. The child draws national attention, and a group of scientists try to help the child learn proper speech and pronunciation. In the end, the whole group realizes that the boy’s singing is not a disability but a gift.

Besides Mitani, the big draw of this play is Shingo Katori (香取 慎吾) who plays the leading role. Katori is a huge pop idol in Japan. Having first entered the public eye with his role in SMAP, Katori remains a hugely popular figure in Japanese culture. According to many in the audience, his role in the production seems to be the primary reason for most of the show’s hype.

Katori’s performance was pretty decent, but he seemed to struggle in the English parts. On the other hand, his co-stars were very entertaining, and their comedic timing was amazing. I especially enjoyed Shinya Niiro’s (新納 慎也) parts. He played the comedic relief who commented on the scene from the outside breaking the fourth wall. Niiro delivered every comedic remark with a touch of sarcasm and played it beautifully.

Mitani has plans to take the production to Tokyo in 2010.

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