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Actress Ryoko Yonekura to return to musical "Chicago" for first time in 5 years

2017.04.21 | Tokyo

Actress Ryoko Yonekura will return to the musical "Chicago" in July and August 2017, for the first time in five years. She will take part in the Broadway performances in July and a Japan tour in August to mark the show's 20th anniversary in Japan. 

 

Ryoko Yonekura became the first Japanese actress in 54 years to take up a major role on Broadway when she played Roxie in "Chicago" in July 2012. Her Tokyo performance (23 shows) that followed the New York performance (6 shows) was sold out and packed with standing guests. Ever since then, the producer of Broadway's "Chicago" has long been hoping to have Yonekura back any time. As the production marked its 20th anniversary in November last year, the producers formally gave their offer to Yonekura, with the hopes to promote the show from Broadway to the rest of the world with her fresh face and stardom. Yonekura accepted the offer immediately and is now scheduled to make her comeback to the show from July to mid August this year. She will take part in the performances in July at New York Broadway's Ambassador Theater, as well as the 20th anniversary Japan tour in August at Tokyu Theater Orb.

 

Stage photo by: Masahiro Noguchi

 

"Chicago" has won 6 Tony Awards, 2 Laurence Olivier Awards, as well as the Grammy Award, and has received standing ovations thousands of times. It is the longest run U.S. production on Broadway. A story of fortune and fame like that in "All That Jazz," this musical brings together magnificent tunes and stylish, sexy dance performances, and has become a synonym for "Broadway musical". Whether one is a first-timer in watching musicals, or a fan of the Academy Award-winning film version of the production, or a repeater wanting to watch the musical once again, "Chicago" will no doubt reward the audience with the best show ever. In the case of Japan, there have been seven runs of the production since 1999 by foreign troupes, twice by Japanese cast, and twice by former performers of the Takarazuka Revue. Altogether, that totals more than 350 shows and an accumulated audience of 550,000.

 

Ryoko Yonekura plays Roxie Hart, a devilish yet lovable character who would do anything to achieve her desires. Roxie, who is married and indicted on charges of murdering her lover, attempts to attain stardom by using her lawyer and the media. All songs in "Chicago" are well-known, including "All That Jazz." Roxie's signature songs include "Funny Honey" that is full of sarcasm about her love for her husband, the history-making "Roxie", the dance maneuver "Me and My Baby," the song about life's ups and downs "Nowadays," and others. Her charm as a stage actress as well as a woman will be presented to the audience.  

 

Stage photo by: Masahiro Noguchi

 

Ryoko Yonekura's return to Broadway in this 20th anniversary year for "Chicago" and the long-awaited Japan performance will undoubtedly be the most important topic for the summer of 2017. The following are remarks by Ryoko Yonekura and Barry Weissler ("Chicago" executive producer):

 

Ryoko Yonekura (Roxie Hart) :

I am extremely honored to be able to challenge myself once again in "Chicago" in this milestone year that marking the 20th anniversary. The first time I watched "Chicago," I was immediately mesmerized by it entirely -- the music, the costumes, the dance, everything. And then, I was offered the opportunity to be part of this production in 2008. This is a very important production in my career as an actress and I believe fate brought me to this musical. I am a little bit anxious given the five year hiatus, but at the same time, I am filled with joy to have the chance to play Roxie once again! I am looking forward to be able to express a different worldview this time, from the experiences I have gained over the past years. As I would like to entertain as many in the audience as possible, I will give all that I have to this new challenge so that I will have no regrets.

 

Barry Weissler ("Chicago" executive producer):

 

There is no greater joy than to have Ryoko, who puts in all her love, effort and incomparable talent, back in Broadway. Marking the 20th year since its debut, "Chicago" has become the place to present Broadway and people in the rest of world with a refined form of entertainment. "Chicago" is an American musical and holds the record as the longest-running production on Broadway. It has been performed in 34 countries, 473 cities and 12 languages. Five years have passed since she made her debut on Broadway in 2012, Ryoko has gained even more experiences as an actress and in life and right now, I am looking forward to watching her from the audience. Although Roxie is a "Caucasian, American woman" in the script, we have had African American actress, Mexican actress and others play the role, breaking down the race barrier. Having Ryoko play the role of Roxie as an "Asian American woman" was a breakthrough. This year, as American faces a new social environment, her performance will for sure not only be a transformation for the audience but also to the theatrical world. Why? That is because Ryoko is the living proof of this show's universal appeal and global presence. To be able to play this role in both Japanese and English shows that her talents surpasses all country borders and language barriers. We are very proud to be able to celebrate this 20th anniversary year with such an amazing actress! This might be a bit too early, but I'd like to say, "Ryoko, welcome back!"

 

Broadway musical "Chicago"
July 3 (Monday) to July 13 (Thursday), 2017 (tentative)
Venue: Ambassador Theatre (New York, Broadway)
August 2 (Wednesday) to August 13 (Sunday), 2017
Venue: Tokyu Theater Orb Shibuya Hikarie 11/F

 

 

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