Takarazuka!!!”, the first play of this year’s Clubbed Thumb Summerworks 2012, offers a fascinating glimpse into the unusual real-life theater and school in Takarazuka, which puts on Western-style musicals in which all the men’s parts are played by women who have trained from a young age.
Here is my review in Back Stage of Takarazuka. It is a critic’s pick: “The fictional story that the playwright cooks up around the real if eerie world of Takarazuka theater is a relatively weak stew flavored with everything from “Victor/Victoria” to “M. Butterfly” to “Farewell My Concubine” to “The Red Shoes.” But this hardly matters, given some riveting scenes and wonderful performances.”
Here is an interview with the producing artistic director of Clubbed Thumb, Maria Striar: “I like acting, and I can be quite good at it, but I stink at being an actor. It’s a brutal life, I think, and a pretty bad match for my personality..The first time I produced something, I was so delighted by the agency I felt.”
Here is an interview with playwright Susan Soon He Stanton: I was inspired to write this play after watching an interview of a Takarazuka “male star.” She explained, “I always dreamed of joining Takarazuka. I never imagined what would happen when the dream would end. After hearing this woman’s bittersweet interview, I began to research Takarazuka. I became obsessed with the lurid, surreal, and oddly compelling performances. I was introduced to the strange ritual of forced retirement that these actresses undergo, a tradition unique to the Takarazuka Revue. This play is my imagining of what happens when “the dream ended.”