A musical with book by John Weidman, Pacific Overtures traces the history of Japan from the first contact with America (via Commodore Matthew Perry) through the modern age. The "development" of the country is represented by two characters, Kayama Yasaemon, a traditional samurai, and his friend Manjiro, a fisherman who had been shipwrecked in Boston, where he embraced Western ways. As Japan becomes more Westernized, Kayama embraces the new culture while Manjiro rejects it, rediscovering his roots. All this is acted out against a backdrop of the greater changes in Japan, as the Japanese and the world powers all try to capitalize on the opening up of Japan.Synopsis complet
The title of the work is drawn directly from text in a letter from Admiral Perry addressed to the Emperor dated July 7, 1853: "Many of the large ships-of-war destined to visit Japan have not yet arrived in these seas, though they are hourly expected; and the undersigned, as an evidence of his friendly intentions, has brought but four of the smaller ones, designing, should it become necessary, to return to Edo in the ensuing spring with a much larger force. But it is expected that the government of your imperial majesty will render such return unnecessary, by acceding at once to the very reasonable and pacific overtures contained in the President's letter, and which will be further explained by the undersigned on the first fitting occasion."
Pacific Overtures opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on January 11, 1976, and closed after 193 performances on June 27, 1976. Directed by Harold Prince, the choreography was by Patricia Birch, scenic design by Boris Aronson, costume design by Florence Klotz, and lighting design by Tharon Musser. The original cast recording was released originally by RCA Records and later on CD. This production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, and won Best Scenic Design (Boris Aronson) and Best Costume Design (Florence Klotz).
An off-Broadway production ran at the Promenade Theatre from October 25, 1984 for 109 performances, transferring from an earlier production at the York Theatre Company. Directed by Fran Soeder with choreography by Janet Watson, the cast featured Ernest Abuba and Kevin Gray.
The European premiere was directed by Howard Lloyd-Lewis (Library Theatre, Manchester) at Wythenshawe Forum in 1986 with choreography by Paul Kerryson who subsequently directed productions in 1993 and 2006 at Leicester Haymarket Theatre.
A major production of the show was mounted in London by the English National Opera in 1987. The production was recorded in its entirety, preserving nearly the entire libretto as well as the score.
A critically acclaimed 2001 Chicago Shakespeare Theater production, directed by Gary Griffin, transferred to the West End Donmar Warehouse, where it ran from June 30, 2003 until September 6, 2003 and received the 2003 Olivier Award for Best Musical Production.
In 2002 the New National Theatre of Tokyo presented two limited engagements of their production, which was performed in Japanese with English supertitles. The production ran at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center from July 9, 2002 through July 13, and then at the Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center, from September 3, 2002 through September 8.
A Broadway revival ran at Studio 54 from December 2, 2004 to January 30, 2005, directed by Amon Miyamoto and starring B.D. Wong as the Narrator and several members of the original cast. A new Broadway recording, with new (reduced) orchestrations by orchestrator Jonathan Tunick was released by PS Classics, with additional material not included on the original cast album. The production was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.
The Original broadway production was filmed and broadcast on Japanese television in 1976.
Prologue — Orchestra
The Advantages of Floating in the Middle of the Sea — Reciter and Company
There Is No Other Way — Tamate, Observers
Four Black Dragons — Fisherman, Thief, Reciter, Townspeople
Chrysanthemum Tea — Shogun, Shogun's Mother, Shogun's Wife, Soothsayer, Priests, Shogun's Companion, Physician, Sumo Wrestlers
Poems — Kayama, Manjiro
Welcome to Kanagawa — Madam and Girls
March to the Treaty House — Orchestra
Someone in a Tree — Old Man, Reciter, Boy, Warrior
Lion Dance — Commodore Perry
Please Hello — Abe, Reciter, American, British, Dutch, Russian and French Admirals)
A Bowler Hat — Kayama
Pretty Lady — Three British Sailors
Next — Reciter and Company
Mako — Reciter, Shogun, Jonathan Goble
Soon-Teck Oh — Tamate, Kayama's Wife, Samurai, Storyteller, Swordsman
Isao Sato — Kayama
Yuki Shimoda — Abe, First Councillor
Sab Shimono — Manjiro
Ernest Abuba — Samurai, Adams, Noble
James Dybas — Second Councillor, Old Man, French Admiral
Timm Fujii — Son, Priest, Girl, Noble, British Sailor
Haruki Fujimoto — Servant, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry
Larry Hama — Williams, Lord of the South
Ernest Harada — Physician, Madam, British Admiral
Alvin Ing — Shogun's Mother, Observer, Merchant, American Admiral,
Patrick Kinser-Lau — Shogun's Companion, Girl, Dutch Admiral, British Sailor
Jae Woo Lee — Fisherman, Sumo Wrestler, Lord of the South
Freddy Mao — Third Councillor, Samurai's Daughter
Tom Matsusaka — Imperial Priest
Freda Foh Shen — Shogun's Wife
Mark Hsu Syers — Samurai, Thief, Soothsayer, Warrior, Russian Admiral, British Sailor
Ricardo Tobia — Observer
Gedde Watanabe — Priest, Girl, The Boy
Conrad Yama — Grandmother, Sumo Wrestler, Japanese Merchant
Fusako Yoshida — Musician, Shamisen
Proscenium Servants, Sailors and Townspeople: Kenneth S. Eiland, Timm Fujili, Joey Ginza, Patrick Kinser-Lau, Diane Lam, Tony Marinyo, Kevin Maung, Kim Miyori, Dingo Secretario, Freda Foh Shen, Mark Hsu Seyers, Gedde Watanabe, Leslie Watanabe, Ricardo Tobia
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