'Prince of Kabuki' in town for theatre showcase

'Prince of Kabuki' in town for theatre showcase
ICON: Kabuki star Ebizo Ichikawa XI in make-up, wig and costume during a performance.

Ebizo Ichikawa XI, 36, may be dubbed the Prince of Kabuki in his home country, but his appeal extends beyond the traditional performance art.

He has done commercials and television shows and has headlined a handful of movies, including historical drama Ask This of Rikyu (2013) and cult director Takashi Miike's epic morality tale, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011).

The veteran actor, 36, is a scion of the Ichikawa clan, one of Japan's most revered Kabuki families.

But behind the dramatic make-up, glaring facial expressions and long white wig is a refreshingly charming man.

"I don't think theatre and films are particularly different. Both have the purpose of creating work to move and touch others," said Ebizo, in an e-mail interview with M.

"I can't say which is more fun to take on, but Kabuki is definitely more challenging."

He added: "Everything about Kabuki is difficult. Especially when it comes to physical fitness. It's much harder than what you might imagine."


Although Kabuki is his first love, he also relishes the occasional appearance on the big screen.

This year, Ebizo reunited with Miike, starring in the latter's horror thriller Over Your Dead Body. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

"If (this) garners good reviews, there will probably be future opportunities for more movies," added the father of two young children. When the topic shifted to his good looks, however, he was quick to shrug off the compliments.

When asked if he was aware that the Japanese media find him handsome, he simply replied: "Is it?"

Ebizo will be in town this month as the producer and lead actor of Japan Theater, a showcase of Kabuki and Noh forms. (See report on right.)

"For audiences watching us for the first time, this is a nice opportunity for them to be introduced to the unique culture of another Asian country," he said.

"Also, our repertoire comprises... two dances which share a similarity with Singapore's name, Lion City. That's why I hope Singapore audiences would be able to identify with our show, even if it's just a little."

WHAT: Japan Theater - Produced and headlined by Ebizo Ichikawa XI
WHEN: Nov 14 to 16
WHERE: Sands Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands
TICKETS: $89 to $185 from www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555


This article was first published on Nov 5, 2014.
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