From pop to kabuki

From pop to kabuki
In one of the acts in his show, Hideaki Takizawa (above) plays the drum while hanging upside-down.

Like most young people who are steeped in the here and now, Japanese pop and TV idol Hideaki Takizawa was reluctant to star in a traditional theatre performance a decade ago.

Now, Takizawa, 33, wishes he had tried his hand earlier at the Japanese traditional musical theatre form of kabuki.

"As a young guy, I was interested in Western culture, hip-hop and mainstream things. That's why I was hesitant to try out this traditional art," says the star of the theatre show Takizawa Kabuki that is named after him.

He says that his interest in the art form grew. Now he hopes that the show, a modern take on the 17th-century form, will be a gateway to introduce kabuki to younger audiences.

To mark the popular show's 10th anniversary this year, it will be staged at Marina Bay Sands in August, the first time it is held outside Japan. Takizawa was speaking to Life! in an interview at the integrated resort last week.

In 2006, the young idol, whose singing career was riding high as part of J-pop duo Tackey And Tsubasa, signed up for the kabuki production, a "live song, dance and drama extravaganza" which started out with the title Takizawa Enbujo.

The move paid off and the annual shows have been runaway hits in Japan. It has been staged a total of 505 times. This year, all 72,800 tickets of the 52 performances in Japan were reportedly snapped up in a fortnight.

Takizawa never imagined that his kabuki performance would run for 10 years. Since 2010, he has also taken on the role of director, which allows him to decide on the "fine essence of the performance", such as the costume and the music.

He is constantly on the lookout for new elements to incorporate into the show to keep it fresh. He draws inspiration from watching other kabuki shows, as well as musical and magic shows in Las Vegas.

"It does get stressful because I have double the work. However, the gratification and happiness that I experience is twice as much compared to when I was just acting," says Takizawa, who spends his days off catching up on his sleep.

Having tried his hand at directing a theatre production, he hopes to try directing an action movie.

Why action? He says with a glint in his eye: "I'm a guy and guys like action."

He already gets plenty of action by doing the Takizawa Kabuki show. In a video shown at the press conference, he is seen performing aerial stunts and hanging upside-down while playing the drum.

He has became beefier as a result of his gruelling stage show. He says: "Because the performance is so strenuous, I gained weight and I became more muscular. My shoulders have broadened by 3cm through the production. I trouble the costume designers for new measurements every year."

Besides the kabuki show, Takizawa - who shot to fame in the controversial TV drama Terms Of A Witch (1999) about a student-teacher love affair - continues to act on the big and small screen.

He was kept busy last year starring in the TV crime drama Hamu and period drama Nezumi. On the music front, Tackey And Tsubasa released their new album, Two Tops Treasure (2014).

The bachelor's packed work schedule means that getting married is on the back burner for now.

Nonetheless, he hopes that his future life partner can provide him with a "calm environment" to relax in when he returns home from work.

Life! posed him a parenting question related to his break-out role as a teenage student who falls in love with his teacher in Terms Of A Witch. What would happen if it was a case of real life imitating reel life and Takizawa's future child is involved in such a relationship?

He says with laugh: "That would be big trouble. It's a dream that everyone fancies. But in reality, people should stay away from such a romance."

nggwen@sph.com.sg

Book it

TAKIZAWA KABUKI

Where: Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands

When: Aug 18 to 23

Admission: $95, $115 and $170 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)


This article was first published on June 8, 2015.
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