Episode 36: Understudies

Hi everyone! On this episode, Carly and guest violetposies talk about understudies in Takarazuka, and the understudy performances that took place during this year’s Elisabeth.

CLARIFICATION: we mention that Grand Hotel was at the same time as Rurouni Kenshin, but they weren’t running simultaneously; they took place at roughly the same time of year but one year apart.

SHOWS MENTIONED
Elisabeth (Moon 2018)
Debutante
Partial Time Travel
Rurouni Kenshin
Cocktail

ACTRESSES MENTIONED
Seira Hitomi
Ayanagi Shou
Mana Haruto
Takumi Hibiki
Haruno Sumire
Miya Rurika
Tsukishiro Kanato (Reiko)
Kazama Yuno
Akatsuki Chisei (Ari)
Sou Kazuho
Ayaoto Sena
Souma Seren
Ayaji Yurika
Ran Naoki
Sakihi Miyu
Hoshikaze Madoka
Yumeshiro Aya

GLOSSARY
Shinjin Kouen: a special “rising stars” performance each Grand Theater run in which all the roles are played by actresses with 7 years experience or less.

4 thoughts on “Episode 36: Understudies”

  1. Hey, loved the episode! A couple of things, let me know what you think?

    I have this one thought about understudies that are really sudden. I know in the past there have been some shows where the shinko performer took over for a day or two before the higher-ranked understudy took over. I wonder if they do that because in general the shinko players have more rehearsal time and are better prepared, but if it looks like a longer absence they feel they need to put the higher ranked upperclassman in?

    On the fact that they rarely tell us WHAT is wrong other than “illness” or “poor physical health” or sometimes “injury”… I remember when the H1N1 virus was going around in 2009 and people all over the world were freaking out (Japan especially… I went to a clinic to get tested at one point and they made me wait outside in my car and sent the nurse out to test me). Every day new actresses were out ill, and they did say that it was H1N1, if I recall correctly.

    About loosing your voice…. Masaki’s was really rough during “Hamlet” (if you’ve heard it, it’s a screaming rock musical). She had just finished Chauvelin in “Scarlet Pimpernel” (insanely low range) and her voice was in really, really rough shape. She didn’t cancel her tea parties, but she also didn’t talk during them. They hauled in an overhead projector and she wrote on that, while surrounded by about five steam machines. I HATED it and wished she had just canceled, but her career was in such a precarious place at that point (just starting as 2bante) that she probably couldn’t afford to. She did cancel iride a few times, but often didn’t and just smiled at us instead of talking.

    Having an understudy for a higher-ranked role really isn’t usual, especially if you think of how many performances they put on over the course of a year. But here are a few others that I can think of from the past 30 years:

    “A Single Rose / The Revuescope”
    2bante Oura Mizuki injured her knee badly during the Takarazuka run and was out for several months. Everyone was very nervous about her recovery because she was slated to become top star at the end of the run. Upperclassman Segawa Kae took over her role.

    “Ephemeral Love / Papalagi”
    Shion Yuu (top star of Star Troupe) was ill, and Asaji Saki played the lead role in the Grand Theater run.

    “Black Jack / Phoenix ”
    Not quite the same as an illness or injury, but Anju Mira (top star of Flower) was doing the London performance, so Maya Miki (2bante) had the lead for most of the Tokyo run.

    “Dark Brown Eyes / Bolero Rouge”
    2bante Shibuki Jun was out due to injury (I seem to remember hearing a stage light fell on her!), Oozora Yuuhi (shinko actress) played her role for part of Tokyo run.

    “Takarazuka Floral Diary / Senor Don Juan”
    3bante Kiriya Hiromu was out due to illness for most of Tokyo run, Hokushou Kairi took her role. This was part of the illness she had been fighting for some time, and she was also out for the following Bow Hall show she was supposed to lead (Bridge of Tears, Bridge of Laughter), so young star Tsukifune Sarara took it over (and did an awesome job).

    “W-Wing”
    Wao Youka’s terrible fall during the show led to it being cancelled, since it was a small-theater show just to showcase her before her retirement. I seem to remember fan speculation that the choreography for Never Say Goodbye was deliberately adjusted to be easier on her hip.

    Top musumeyaku Hizuki Hana’s broken ankle (am I remembering the injury right?) led to her being replaced by younger musumeyaku stars in both the Grand Theater show “A Morning Breeze / Passion” (Kazune Miou) and the Umeda Arts Theater “Singin’ in the Rain” (Hanakage Arisu).

    1. Thanks for the awesome additions! I didn’t know of any examples where the shinko actress took over temporarily until an older understudy could prepare but your theory there sounds totally plausible.

  2. I think the one example of understudies that I remember effecting me the most was when Ayakaze Sakina was absent due to illness during the first week of Bakumatsu Taiyouden since Towaki Sea had to cover her role and at the time Saki was sanbante. But since we had not gotten Asami Jun yet Hitoko was next in line as it were. Agata Sen also covered Hitoko’s original role and Hiyori Haruma covered for Agata Sen’s.

    And since it was the first week we have footage at least from the shonichi digest of the understudy changes. As I recall, Ayanagi Shou and Mana Haruto had to cover parts for Saki during Dramatic “S!” too. I did not get to actually see shonichi with these cast changes but I heard from others who went that they all did wonderfully while Saki was out. I long for a full copy of the shonichi digest personally.

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