1.29.2009

Sondheim's Japan



I seem to have stumbled upon some weird Japan/Stephen Sondheim connection lately. Following my post about how Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" looks and sounds odd when performed by Japanese actors, I have to say the same is true in reverse. Until now, I had never seen Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures," which tells the story of the opening of Japan to the West in the 19th century. Although it is not available on video, it apparently was broadcast in Japan years ago, and someone's put the whole thing online (although in somewhat poor video quality). I like the Japanese aesthetic and even the use of Japanese actors, but the lyrics in English just sound unnatural. Maybe if I saw it live on stage I'd be swept into the world of the play, and I wouldn't care. But I actually think this musical would work better if it was translated and performed in Japanese.