production of 'Titanic - The Musical'
for Fuji Television Network -
thinks big with Titanic musical
By Amy Vaillancourt Matsuoka, Special to
the Daily Yomiuri
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
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
And Walford's reason for working on Titanic? "A 46,000-ton
ocean liner sinks. What's more epic than that?"
||TITANIC The Musical -
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]