East Meets West in Sondheim's Japanese Themed Musical, Pacific Overtures
This touching and witty musical tells the story of the painful westernization of Japan through the eyes of two friends. A ground-breaking musical, Pacific Overtures examines the transformation of Japan beginning when U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry brought four black ships into "a land of changeless order." Many of the events and characters portrayed in the show- Japan's self-imposed isolation from the world, the fisherman Manjiro, the Tokugawa shogunate, the Meiji revolution and its consequences - are as familiar to an Japanese schoolchild as George Washington and the Revolutionary war are to Americans. This rarely produced show mixes elements of traditional Japanese theatre with the Broadway musical.
The original 1976 production was nominated for a whopping ten Tony Awards including best musical, book and score. With a book by John Weidman (Assassins), Pacific Overtures features music and lyrics by Broadway legend, Stephen Sondheim. Many of the songs in the show rank among the most admired compositions in Broadway history. Sondheim himself recognizes "Someone in a Tree" and "A Bowler Hat" as personal favorites.
In preparation for the production, Artistic Director L. Walter Stearns and Music Director Eugene Dizon traveled to Tokyo and Shimoda, Japan. They experienced Japanese Kabuki and Noh theatre and visited the actual port where U.S. Admiral Commodore Perry sailed into the East. With their host, actress Haruna Tsuchiya, Mr. Stearns and Mr. Dizon retraced the legendary march along Admiral Commodore Perry's Avenue. Their adventures and research will be shared in a series of post-show audience discussions.
Pacific Overtures features an all Asian American cast including: Broadway actor, David Rhee as the Reciter, Kent Haina as the Samuri Manjiro and Danny Bernardo as his friend the fisherman Kayama. The ensemble is composed of: Chelsea Dolinar-Hikawa, Adrian Fontanilla, Jillian Anne Jocson, Erik Kaiko, Chip Payos, Nick Shoda, Peter Sipla and Keith Uchima. The show is directed by Porchlight Music Theatre's Artistic Director L. Walter Stearns with Music Direction by Eugene Dizon and Choreography by Brenda Didier, Costume Design is by Carol J. Blanchard, Scenic Design by Kurt Sharp, Lighting Design by John Horan and Stage Management by Jennifer Kincaid.