On the musicals trail of go-it-alone Ongakuza

They may all be classed as musicals, but such productions in Japan exhibit a remarkable variety of forms and content.

These include shows from overseas staged with foreign casts; shows from abroad presented under license by Japanese entertainment companies like Shiki, Toho and Horipro using Japanese actors; and also the original, uniquely Japanese ones produced by the all-female Takarazuka theatre company.

Added to that, new-style “2.5-Dimensional” musicals that draw on manga, animation stories and video/computer games for their contents have become increasingly popular over the past 20 years — in the process contributing greatly to the current musicals boom.

Recently, too, that boom has inspired a fresh interest by lots of theatre companies in creating musicals, so that the prosperity of this genre just seems to be snowballing with no signs of slowing down.

Amid this state of flux, the Tokyo-based Ongakuza company appears untroubled while continuing to present original musicals one after another as it has been doing since it was founded in 1987.

This time, Ongakuza will present one of its best-known original works, “Nakanaide” (“Don’t Cry”), at Machida Civic Hall in Tokyo from June 9–11, followed by performances in Osaka and Nagoya.

Adapted from Shusaku Endo’s 1963 novel “Watashi ga Suteta Onnna” (“The Girl I Left Behind”), the author was so moved that he needed two handkerchiefs for his tears when he attended the show’s premiere in Tokyo in 1994.