Monday, 2 May 2011

Ribbon no Kishi ~ The Musical ~

Ribbon no Kishi ~ The Musical 2006 ~

Starring Morning Musume & Biyuuden

Hitomi Yoshizawa
- Prime Minister of Silverland
Miki Fujimoto - The Witch Hecate
Ai Takahashi - Prince/Princess Sapphire
Makoto Ogawa - Baron Nylon
Risa Niigaki - Lady in waiting/Knight Nouveau
Eri Kamei - Lady in waiting/Knight Torteau
Sayumi Michishige - Lady in waiting/ Talent Scout Rue
Reina Tanaka - Lady in waiting/ Talent Scout Riziere
Koharu Kusumi - Prime Minister's son/King of Silverland

Rika Ishikawa - Prince Franz of Goldland
Erika Miyoshi - Gaoler/Lady in waiting
Yui Okada - Gaoler/Lady in waiting

Marcia - Queen consort of Silverland
King/God - Kaoru Ebira

Nozomi Tsuji
- Gaoler (In certain performances)
Natsumi Abe / Aya Matsuura - Prince Franz (In certain performances)

This is the story of Sapphire, played by Ai Takahashi, who is born with the soul of both a boy and a girl. She is known to the public as Prince Sapphire, however her body is of a woman. Her father, the King of Silverland, has her in mind as his heir, and, as a woman, she would have to forfeit the throne.

Disguised as a flaxen-haired princess, she decides to attend a dance that only happens once a year in Silverland, and happens upon the Prince of Goldland, Franz, played by Rika Ishikawa. Who falls helplessly in love with Sapphire at first sight. Not knowing about her dilemma.

The Prime Minister of Silverland, played by Hitomi Yoshizawa, is desperate for power for her son, played by Koharu Kusumi, who is next in line for the throne of Silverland if Sapphire does not have any heirs. The Prime Minister asks the witch Hecate, played by Miki Fujimoto, for a truth serum, which she tricks Sapphire's mother, the Queen of Silverland, played by Takaruza actress Marcia, into drinking. After which she reveals Sapphire's secret. After a fight that goes wrong that kills the King of Silverland, the Prime Ministers son seizes the throne.

Sapphire's mother is dying, and when Hecate returns to bribe Sapphire for her mothers life, in exchange for her female soul, Sapphire takes it, and returns to the castle of Silverland to fight Franz and the Prime Minister for her right to the throne.

This musical is extremely well-cast, with each Hello! Project member fitting into her role perfectly. Ai Takahashi as the star is an excellent choice, as she is dedicated to the role and has an electric stage presence. I was particularly surprised at Koharu's acting skills, and think she suits the stage more than being in a girl group. Rika's lowered voice sounds fantastic, and she sounds much better singing in a lower register. Also included in this musical is Erika Miyoshi and Yui Okada from Biyuuden, who, while they have very small roles, do very well with what they are given.

This musical marks Makoto Ogawa's graduation from Morning Musume, and the end was quite sad as particularly Ai and Risa, fellow 5th generation members, were crying a lot. I only have high praise for this musical as extremely enjoyable, particularly well produced and a lot of fun. All the girls have clearly worked very hard and it shows, as the slickness of the production doesn't falter.

Natsumi Abe, Aya Matsuura and Nozomi Tsuji all had appearances in this musical during it's run. Abe and Matsuura playing Prince Franz, and Tsuji playing a gaoler, an extra character that isn't included in the last day. From the clips I have seen of these versions, all do very well, in particular Matsuura, who I am disappointed she didn't get a smaller role in the days she didn't play Franz, as Rika did (as a lady in waiting).

I am now eager to watch Cinderella the Musical. Morning Musume, particularly Ai Takahashi, have shown their strength in theatre, and I hope that more musicals are to be announced in the future.

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