My overall impression is that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. But quite a whole it was. This is the first show I’ve been to that I’ve seen a standing ovation. I'm having trouble pinning it down to just one thing, but when I finally got up from my seat I found myself grinning.
My Japanese (especially when listening to it live) is only so-so, so while I was mostly able to follow the general plot I may have gotten some things wrong.
I saw A/L at the Nippon Seinenkan Hall. It was the first thing I’ve seen done live that wasn’t at the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater, and I have to say that I liked the (comparably) smaller space. It was a more intimate. Definitely looking forward to Kiriyan performing there in a few months. The curtain had a really, really cute chibi versions of Agnes and Raoul, complete with captions of what looked like the French version of Japanglish.
There were some pretty funny Takarazuka/real life references throughout the show. The weather on the way to the theater was pretty bad, complete with thunder. I don’t know how the show normally starts, but two of the ‘siennes (sorry, don’t know who, not that familiar with Cosmos troupe…I think it might have been the ladies who played Watson and Holmes?) did a number complete with raincoats and broken umbrellas (anyone who has been in Tokyo during heavy winds will know what I mean) and talked about how much the weather sucked. They made a couple of references to Hanagumi as well, which will be starting Akechi Kogourou in a few days at the Tokyo Theater. In act 2 Tani made a reference to “Hot Flower of Valencia” (Cosmos’ next show), which got a lot of laughs. Oh, and there was an Andre costume (no, really, I’m not kidding). And there was a costume that if it wasn’t Marie Antoinette, it sure was done in the same style.
Overall I liked Tani. She had a good voice and did a good job portraying Raoul as suave, popular, sensitive, and dorky all at the same time. Yeah, I know a couple of those contradict each other, but ah well. Pretty good stage presence as well, and considering this was her first show as a top star I thought she did very nicely. I definitely want to see Hot Flower of Valencia now.
Hizuki Hana…hmm. I liked her acting (Agnes was a fairly interesting character for a musumeyaku), but her singing and dancing didn’t particularly impress or disappoint me. I did think she worked very well with Tani, though. I found myself really wanting their characters to be together.
I’m not going to go into the rest of the cast because this review is ridiculously long as it is, but I thought everyone was solid. The actresses who played Young Raoul and Young Agnes particularly stand out in my mind. Oh, and even though I had already seen their characters’ names in the cast list, I really cracked up when Hokushou Kairi and Harukaze Misato showed up as Watson and Holmes.
I really liked a lot of the music. It makes me sad that Hankyuu only releases the cast recordings of Grand Theater shows. One thing that I really liked about A/L is that a good portion of it was sung/danced through. Occasionally the music stopped and had dialogue scenes, but on the whole I didn’t find myself wondering when they were going to stop blathering and start singing. This is a very good thing. The choreography, on the other hand, wasn’t terrible, but it didn't really stand out either.
The story itself I enjoyed quite a bit. I always love a good secret identity tale. Even though it took until the end of the first act for Raoul to make his first appearance as Arsene Lupin, I felt like the plot moved steadily along and kept me interested. I’m a bit annoyed though because I feel like the story could have been amazing except for some flaws, which I won’t go into cause they mostly have to do with the second half/end of the show. Then again, my Japanese is only so-so and I think I’ll have to hold off complete judgment until I see a more complete summary and understand everything. Oh, and did I mention that this show was on the best kind of crack? Despite how wacky it got at parts (there was one scene that I swear escaped from Rocky Horror), I thought that managed to work well with some of the more serious parts.
Tani made a small speech after bows, saying that even the rain couldn’t stop the show. She was quite cute.
Whew, that was long. Congratulations to anyone who made it this far!