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Glen's production of 'Titanic - The Musical' for Fuji Television Network -


Walford thinks big with Titanic musical

By Amy Vaillancourt Matsuoka, Special to the Daily Yomiuri

  After 42 years in the theater business, Glen Walford knows her true nature: a "theatrical gypsy...attracted to epic tales." Described by her current production cast members as surprisingly powerful, Walford is directing the premiere of the Japanese version of Titanic the Musical. The fateful story of crew and passengers on the ship's maiden voyage stars Mitsuru Matsuoka and will play at Toky International forum in Tokyo from Jan 15 to Feb 4.

walford recently spoke with The Daily Yomiuri during rehearsals at Park Studios in Sumida Ward, Tokyo. She said her love of theatre goes as far back as childhood, when she would use her toys to act out scenes. "Now, I'm doing the same thing, only with real people!" she says, throwing her bleach blonde hair back and laughing at herself.
"I like to think of myself as the circus: Come into town, concentrate all my energy on one project, then just leave," she says.

With a good sense of humour, Walford is also powerful and determined. This combination has enabled her to be successful at home in Britain as well as in her international career. To give an example of the magnitude of her work: Walford was the first foreign woman to direct at the 14,000-seat Epidaurus amphitheater in Greece. Her Prometheus, in Greek, also toured Canada. Other grand-scale endeavours have spanned continents, taking in Malaysia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Russia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Israel, Austria, Germany and the United States.

Walford loves to tackle larger-than-life projects with grand stories. Her penchant for epic tales reaches from Shakespeare to Shirley Valentine, from the Rocky Horror Show to Sleeping Beauty. She is drawn to "great big stories which are exhilarating (tales of) life on a big scale." And the theatre genre best suited to this, she says, is the musical. "When words are not enough, you have to launch into song,"
But even with such notable international successes, does she feel a distance working outside of the English-speaking realm? Walford explains that the connections an actor makes between the character's feelings, words and actions are what hold together a performance.
"[As an actor] you can understand things in your heart...good acting is good acting- in whatever language. And bad acting is bad acting. It's that simple."

As a director in Japan, she is entirely against the authoritarian approach that is still so prevalent here. "You must lead people, not bully them: inspire and get them to take responsibiliety."
A responsible actor is one who can think and decide for himself, making him ultimately a great asset to a production.
Flanked by interpreters, and with a bilingual production book in hand, Walford is in control. She admits that when it comes to overall artistic decisions, "I'll be strong if I need to be."

Fearlessly she navigates rehearsals, stopping actors to question motivation when their emotions are not being conveyed. She redirects, rewrites and pushes on ward with the goal of touching the audience. She rejoices when her success comes in the form of audience members struggling to restrain their sobs.
Walfor has spent 20 years in and out of Japad, and Titanic is her fourth production in this country. Even she was surprised at the triumphant reception that her musical Grand Hotel received on her previous visit. She regarded it as a "melancholy tale with a mournfully moving quality. And the Japanese just ate it up."

On the back of that success, she has returned to work with the same Japanese lyricist, Hideomi Terasaki. Totanic stars Matsuoka, vocalist of J-pop group Sofia, and veteran actor Akira Takarada.

The musical tells the tale of 13 people on the maiden voyage of the liner from Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912. Walford says the tale is a requiem that is grand and tragic, but also abouthope, atonement and forgiveness. "We see how they have to face themselves. The souls of the characters are revealed, and why they do what they do."

And Walford's reason for working on Titanic? "A 46,000-ton ocean liner sinks. What's more epic than that?"

  TITANIC The Musical - CAST
Mitsuru Matsuoka [Thomas Andrews (The Designer&Builder)]
Souma Suzuki [Harold Bride (Radioman)]
Kohjiro Oka [Frederic Barrett (Stoker)]
Kenji Urai [Jim Farrell (3rd-class Passenger)]
Kohki Okada [William Murdoch (1st Officer)]
Jun Shibuki [Kate McGowan (3rd-class Passenger)]
Hiroko Moriguchi [Alice Beane (2nd-class Passenger)]
Mary Suwa [Ida Straus (1st-class Passenger)]
Kenkichi Hamahata [Wallace Hartley (Bandmaster)]
Kenya Osumi [J.Bruce Ismay (The Owner)]
Akihiko Mitsueda [Isidor Straus (1st-class Passenger)]
Takashi Fujiki [Henry Etches (Senior First-class Steward)]
Akira Takarada [Captain E.J.Smith]
Akira Aoyama [Edgar Beane(2nd-class Passenger)]
Chie Oka [Charlotte Cardoza(1st-class Passenger)]
Takuma Izumi [Pitman/J.H.Rogers/Ensemble]
Tatsuharu Itagaki [Hitchens/Bandsman/ Ensemble]

Akio Inui [Lightoller(2nd Officer)]
Atsushi Kashimura [Major/Carlson/ Ensemble]
Shinichi Katori [J.J.Astor/ Ensemble]
Naruki Sakai [B.Guggenheim/ Ensemble]
Morimasa Sagawa [George Widener/ Ensemble]
Yuichi Harada [Edward (Bellboy)/Damicos(dancer)]
Tetsu Fujimoto [Bandsman/ Ensemble]
Tadahiro Maene [John B.Thayer/ Ensemble]
Tsuyoshi Matsubara [Frederic Fleet/ Ensemble]
Saori Aoki [Eleanor Widener/ Ensemble]
Minako Asano [Mme.Aubert/ Ensemble]
Kyoko Ikeya [Kate Murphey/ Ensemble]
Noriko Sakamoto [Edith Corse Evans/ Ensemble]
Shinobu Shirakihara [Kate Mullins/ Ensemble]
Rika Tsukamoto [Marion Thayer/ Ensemble]
Misa Fujibayashi [Damicos (dancer) / Ensemble]
Kyoko Morita [Madelein Astor/ Ensemble]
Taichi Yano [Jack Thayer]


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