masahi: (Star Troupe - Hoshigumi)
[personal profile] masahi
Summary: An adaptation of Frank Wildhorn's musical and based on the novels by Baroness Orczy. Sir Percy Blakeney is a British aristocrat secretly working under the alias of The Scarlet Pimpernel to save aristocrats from the guillotine during the French revolution with his band of men. Chauvelin, Robespierre's aide, is determined to bring him down with the help of Percy's own French wife, Marguerite St. Just, no matter how unwilling she is.

What it is important to know is that ever since my teens, I have had a long-standing crush on the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I read every book I could lay my hands on, watched the TV serials and the films, but until I saw this, I hadn't been able to get through the musical, as I'm not a Wildhorn fan and some of the lyrics really irked me. However, Takarzuka makes everything better, and to my great astonishment I absolutely loved the show.

According to synopses of the various Broadway productions, the Star Troupe one is very different, but it reminds me a great deal of the plot line of the El Dorado book, and features the rescue of the Dauphin as the central storyline. On the whole, it was a lot tighter, and even the two new songs worked beautifully.

While they also pushed back Percy's discovery of Marguerite's honesty and faithfulness from immediately after the ball to a scene in France, I think it works, because it keeps the tension going further into the second act, especially since she's taken prisoner herself. Personally, I love the fact she gets to sing the big "screw you, Chauvelin" in the reprise of "Little Bit of Courage", and make Percy squee.

Even so, what delighted me about this show is how blatantly obvious it is that everyone is having the time of their life and loving every minute. The cast, the sets, everything about it is stellar, and I've already watched it several times over, which hasn't happened to me with a Zuka show since Susano-o. And this time, it's even worse, because Percy!

I can't fault the sets in the least, particularly the Daydream for the boat sequence, and the Comedie Francais set was particularly well done as well. The transitions between scenes were handled very well as well, which can sometimes be a failing in a show, especially spotlighting different parts of the stage at different times.

And on a costume front, I want Chauvelin's suit. Seriously. I want something that makes me look fricking hardcore while being perfectly fitted. That isn't to say Percy's wardrobe wasn't marvellous, but zebra-print with pink feathers does nothing for my complexion ;)

Now, to the cast:

Aran Kei as Percy Blakeney - she was perfection, she really was. A lot of my issues with the Wildhorn show is how "OMG ANGST WOE IS ME" Percy gets during his numbers, but Touko pulled off every side of his personality: grieving, desperate, playful, determined, proud, and shockingly shockingly intelligent.

Her acting, simply her body language, was fantastic. Her "what on earth is going on?" expression, when she played dumb, cracked me up so hard, and the shift in the way she moves from Percy to Grappin. To say nothing of the shift from dim!Percy to action!Percy: her posture completely altered.

She also showed why she was such a good Top Star with the way she led the whole troupe in the performance. While it was a troupe performance, she was the guiding force for them, just as Percy is the guiding figure of the show.

Also, given the last thing I saw her in before Pimpernel was El Halcon when she played a murdering raping sumbitch pirate, to see her play the noble and all-around wonderful Percy (albeit with an inability to say "hey, Marg, you didn't sell us out, did you?") was just fantastic.

Oh and the scenes with Chauvelin were hilarious. I honestly don't know how Chie managed to keep her face straight in the various incarnations of those scenes, since apparently, Touko took to improvising like a duck to water.

Toono Asuka as Marguerite Blakeney - she isn't playing a daughter role. She's playing Marguerite as she should be: hot-blooded, strong-willed and determined woman, who does what she feels needs to be done to make sure the right things happen.

Normally, I'm afraid the Musumeyaku don't stand out for me, but Asuka is one of the rare exceptions. Combined with Touko, they have a great combination, with the best kind of chemistry, and without forcing her to sing in the stratosphere to compensate for Touko's not-exactly-very-low voice. Their acting meant they didn't force her to sound like a tin whistle and it's especially lovely in their duets.

Like Touko, she's a strong actress as well, which was lovely to see in scenes like "When I Look at You". She could put across so much expression with a single look.

Alas that they kept the tradition of Marguerite ending up needing rescued, but what can you do? It's in the book (wherein Orczy seems to forget that Marguerite didn't start life as an aristo and should be a bit hardier), but at least she got to sing the "screw you" song, when Chauvelin tried to coerce her into going "Yay! Revolution" (I'm guessing this is what they wanted. I'm a bit shaky on that scene)

Also, she managed to carry off the most enormous frocks with great aplomb. Given they were usually wide, rather than round, it was impressive that she didn't knock people sideways.

Yuzuki Reon as Chauvelin - Okay, I will freely admit I now have huge gimungous fangirly squee on Chie-san. She was spiffy in El Halcon, but this? This show, she blew me away. Since I haven't had a favourite top star aside from Asaji Saki, I do believe I have found my girl. Which is kind of fitting since she started out the year after Saki left :)

I don't think it hurt that she got some of the best songs in the show (Falcon in the Dive especially), and the depth of her voice is actually astonishing. I know they're trained in it, but it seems rare that any of them sing that low.

The way she owned the stage when she was on was fantastic, especially given the fact she's ten years Touko's junior and still manages to play a great counterpoint to her. She manages to bring across how malicious and cruel Chauvelin can be, but with a single gesture in "Where's the Girl?", manages to display the vulnerability as well. She also cuts a powerful figure with the way she moves, rather like a panther, dark and feline, as she prowls around the stage.

Trouble is, her Chauvelin is clearly much brighter than the standard ones in the musical, so it's a bit difficult to actually believe she's falling for some of the Pimpernel's tricks. But on the other hand, the sword fight is a nifty one, very convincing and well directed, because goodness only knows directing duels can't be easy.

Ema Naoki as St. Cyr and the Prince of Wales - Naoki is wonderful, whatever she does, but she really stole the scenes when she was on with Touko as the Prince of Wales. I love it when the older troupe members get a chance to have some fun and she clearly was having as much fun as the rest of the troupe.

Tatsuki You & Suszumi Shio as Dewhurst and Ffoulkes - Out of all of Percy's band, these two initial members were lovely and responsible allies. Alas that they didn't have much to do, but what they did, they made count. Incientally, Suzumi Shio's smile should be registered as a dangerous weapon. When she flashes that thing around, one can't be held responsible for one's reaction.

Kazu Ryouka as Armand St. Just - Um. So this lady highlighted my weakness. Dimples. A Sienne with dimples. Her smile combined with her dimples made me flail like a big silly fangirl. Also, I adored her as Captain Black in El Halcon but she played the earnest, good-hearted young man beautifully in this. Also, is it just me or does she seem to enjoy doing the beating scene? She certainly put in a good deal of enthusiasm ;)

Yumesaki Nene as Marie Grosholtz - Technically, a secondary female role, but she didn't really stand out especially, but I think that's more a case of woeful underuse than any lack on her part. I did, however, like her scenes in the portrait scene, when clearly, she does have a brain and can see there's something going on that she's not aware of. I'm very intrigued to see how she does as top star.

Mizuse Chiaki as the Dauphin - I can't deny this one: she blew me sideways, especially knowing how young she is. She portrayed Louis Charles' youth, fear and enthusiasm so well. To not only be a fairly fresh musume, but to be thrown into a main child role and have a duet with the top star is incredibly impressive, even more so because of the Musumeyaku aspect. I'll be watching her with great interest, I think.

The League - Here is where my ability with names and recognition fails me, but oh, the League. I adored how much they all fanboy Percy, and I love little things they get up to in the background, while Percy is taking the lead. One of my favourite moments is when Percy and Marguerite reunite at the end and you can see one of the boys sobbing enthusiastically in the background :D

And lastly, the revue section is worth getting the DVD for, just for the otokoyaku dance. With swords. A whole fleet of otoko with swords is very shiny. The revue gently negotiates around Touko's weaker dancing skills and gives Chie a chance to shine in the big otoko number, wherein she leads the group. It really is very, very shiny :)

In conclusion: see this show. Walk, don't run. Revel in the glee and delight. It's worth it :)


masahi: (Default)

December 2012

2324 2526272829


Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags