Wednesday, December 7, 2011

REPOST : A J-Pop Star Goes From Music to Musicals

This was a post ORIGINALLY from The Wall Street Journal and I feel like sharing it to all, especially to Ai-chan's fans!

She only just left one of Japan’s most popular girl groups, but Ai Takahashi hasn’t wasted any time embarking on a solo venture.

Until Dec. 24, the 25-year-old plays the lead female in “Dance of the Vampires” at Tokyo’s Imperial Garden Theater. The play marks the 100th anniversary of the first Western-style theater in Japan and a return to the stage for the 1997 musical production of Roman Polanski’s original 1967 comedy-horror film. In the story, Professor Abronsius and his young sidekick Alfred set off to the Alps to try to prove that vampires exist, but find themselves in trouble when a local girl Alfred falls in love with is visited by a vampire.

For Ms. Takahashi, the opportunity to play the lead role of Sarah is the first step toward her long-held ambition of performing on Broadway, and a coming-of-age moment as she steps out from the comfort of her band, Morning Musume. The all-girl unit, active since 1997, have had more No. 1 singles than any other female group in Japan and are famous for “graduating” their members to keep the roster fresh.

As Sarah, she faces a dilemma that bears resemblance to Ms. Takahashi’s own recent life, as she leaves the safety and comfort of her strict family home, tempted by the thrills of a vampire’s ball — yet unaware of the effect it will have on her future. She talks about the transition with Scene Asia.

What’s it like acting in a musical, after being in a musical group?

It is not so much of a challenge, because Morning Musume became more of a musical-type act in regard to the shows we did as we developed over the years. Moving on to a musical like “Dance of the Vampires” is a natural progression from my leaving the group, so it actually feels like the same career so far. I also go to musicals often, purely as a fan, so when I got the offer to perform at the Imperial Theater, I accepted it right away, even though the role of Sarah is quite risqué for me.

How did you handle the racier aspects of the show?

The role of Sarah is very sexy — that’s quite a change from the cuteness of being in Morning Musume. For the bath scene [I'm] exposed but not nude, and it’s difficult for me to show even that much of myself.

Sarah gets caught between love and the excitement of a new life. Which would you choose?

She has been protected by her parents, perhaps too much, and during my time in Morning Musume, I felt much the same. So when she meets the vampire, her curiosity is raised so high that she betrays her family and the safe relationship option with the young man Alfred. Even though it’s only been two months for me to leave my safety, I feel like I have more freedom, and it excites me.

I don’t want to live just an easy, normal life, but I don’t want to be too crazy either, so I’d like to choose something between the two extremes that Sarah is faced with. But if I have a choice to date someone my age or someone older with experience, I’d always find more excitement to date someone older.

Are the vampires just a metaphor to suggest that girls are destined to be tempted by delinquents?

I think there is always a feeling for girls to find themselves attracted to people they shouldn’t be with.

I think Sarah doesn’t understand why she is drawn to the vampire, or conversely, why it is that she shouldn’t actually follow him, because she is still young and naive. Perhaps even the audience isn’t clear on how Sarah really feels.

What kind of roles do you see yourself playing in the future?

I prefer characters like Elizabeth and Marie Antoinette, because I enjoy the atmosphere when a woman is the lead character.

I would particularly like to play Marie Antoinette because though she was a queen, she also had a challenging, miserable life. I definitely aim to play more strong women like her.

– Edited from an interview with Robert Michael Poole

Credits to the original writer Robert Michael Poole

1 comment:

  1. I wish this musical was subbed. It seem natural to be into musicals because she seemed like a fan before and she is good at singing, acting and dancing.