Takarazuka: Utsukushiki Shougai/Luna Rossa
If you guys couldn't tell by now, I'm totally stanning some Japanese dude who's been dead for over 400 years. Don't judge me! I also happen to enjoy Takarazuka, so imagine my nerd quakes when I found out that Takarazuka would be doing a play based on Ishida Mitsunari's life. Even the poster looked fabulous! For all of you not willing to read more than a paragraph online, tl;dr Takarazuka is theater troupe where ladies play both men and women...FABULOUSLY.
The Osaka Takarazuka theater is quite different from the Tokyo one. For one, even though you'd think it'd be in, oh I dunno, Osaka? If I recall correctly, it's the last stop on the Hankyu line all the way in Hyogo prefecture. I mean, the guy who created Takarazuka initially made it to be an attraction so more people would buy tickets to the Hankyu line, so it's no wonder it's all the way out in the middle of nowhere. The city of Takarazuka is pretty quaint - there's a flowered path leading from the train station to the theater and there are cute little restaurants and cafes lining this path. Of course, there are a bunch of shops selling old lady items as Takarazuka's clientele tend to be retirement age & up. The theater looks like it came from Germany and it's a little smaller than the Tokyo theater. There's a little mini mall attached to it that sells old lady items and Takarazuka paraphernalia, as well as a full service photo studio that can turn you into Takarazuka stars (unfortunately, it's reservations only. Otherwise, we'd totally replace the background of this blog with sparkly Takarazuka pictures of ourselves.)
The musical itself definitely stretched history a bit. In this version of events, Mitsunari isn't an awkward nerd, but rather a smooth dude that plays by the rules a little too much. Oh and also he's in love with his lord's second wife which causes him lots of problems. There's a lot of Tokugawa faction guys hating on Mitsunari and a lot of Mitsunari pining for Cha-cha for no reason, and some singing and dancing. This is a pretty awful summary of the story, but you can look that up in other places if you really must find out what happens to Mitsunari (spoiler alert, he gets his head chopped off. It doesn't really count as a spoiler if you can find it in a history book). Fabulous? Yes. Historically accurate? No. The second part of the show is something called Luna Rossa, which is the more revue-like number in that it has basically no story and a bunch of song and dance loosely tied together by a general theme. I guess the general theme is "middle-easterny" because people are wearing vaguely middle eastern outfits and there are light up camels. In essence, it's a pretty quintessential Takarazuka double feature - story heavy tragic melodrama to start off and then glitzy song and dance at the end. The music is pretty catchy, although nothing life changing, and the costumes are fantastic as always. I'm surprised that some ladies literally show up, sleep, wake up when their favorite actress is on stage, and go back to sleep.
I apologize to the four people who already read this post even though it wasn't fully written when I first posted it.