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Capezio Tap Master Mat | Advertising Collectible, ca. 1930's

Musical
The Special Magazine for Stage Musical in Japan

Musical, The Special Magazine for Stage Musical in Japan, 1990, Issue #6

Here is an item from my collection that will be unfamiliar to most readers outside Japan. It's a monthly magazine all about stage musicals and mainly those produced in Japan. The magazine made its debut in January, 1983 under the direction of publisher Tokihiko Miura. Mr. Miura sadly died in October, 1993, but the magazine continued, led by a famous writer and critic of the jazz and show business scene in Japan, Masahisa Segawa. Mr. Segawa has been very helpful with the annual National Tap Day productions, here in Japan. "Musical" magazine covers all the musical productions in Japan with criticism, interviews, photo arrays and the like. Featured on this cover picture is Kenichi Honma on the left, Kazunori Tamano in the center and Kenzo Nagahisa on the right.

I really love the cover picture on this issue. This is a publicity photo from a musical called "Astaire - By Myself". It was an original musical production in Japan about life of Fred Astaire, produced and directed by Amon Miyamoto. In 2005, Mr. Miyamoto received four Tony nominations for his production of Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures on Broadway. He became famous in Japan with a production of I Got Merman a show with just 2 pianos and 3 singers that told Ethel Merman's life story through the songs she made famous. Until that production, there had never been this sort of "off-Broadway" style show in Japan. The success of I Got Merman was followed by Astaire - By Myself. In this production, Astaire is played by several different actors who recreate some famous Astaire numbers on stage. I was so excited to see this show when it opened. There had really never been anything like it in Japan. It was broadcast on cable TV here and so I can still watch it on tape. Seeing it now, it's kind of rough, I guess, but it was sensational in 1990. For the first time I felt like there was a real show for tap dancers! One of the really great numbers comes when Miyamoto recreates Astaire's firecracker number from Holiday Inn as a men's ensemble number. Fred Astaire did that number as a solo, of course. Here six dancers perform it and it's wonderful.

Later on, Mr. Miyamoto had some trouble about this show and copyrights. I don't know much about it really, but it seems like he didn't quite get permission to do the show after all. Mr. Miyamoto never talks about this show now, but you know, there was not much concern about copyrights or intellectual property and all that, in Japan back then (maybe even now). I understand how important copyrights are now, particularly when I write and produce shows for various studios. I am trying hard to do the right thing here in Tap Wonderland, so if anyone has a copyright problem with anything published on this web site, please contact me. Don't sue me for my last tap tip. Copyrights aside, Mr. Miyamoto and his shows changed and improved things radically in the stage musical scene here in Japan. We're lucky he came along.

 

 

— Shinichi Matsumoto