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Krammling, Felicia (2018): Der Takarazukalisations-Prozess. Am Beispiel der Adaption des Musicals „Elisabeth“. München: Japan-Zentrum der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München [PDF, 4MB]

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The Takarazuka Revue is a Japanese theatre company with its own theaters in Tokyo and the city of Takarazuka. With approximately 1500 shows a year it reaches an audience of 2,6 million people. The most prominent characteristic of the Takarazuka Revue is its all-female cast. The male roles are played by the so-called otokoyaku 男役, whereas the female roles are played by the so-called musumeyaku 娘役. Overall, it is the otokoyaku who receive the attention and admiration of the mostly female audience. The reasons for this fascination in combination with the implications of gendered role-types have been greatly discussed. Yet, academic research about the performances themselves is still rare. Although the performances are considered as flamboyant and over-the-top cheesy by the general public, the Revue managed to develop a certain style, which has made it extremely popular for over a century. There are plays written and composed by the company’s own staff, for which they often drew inspiration from Japanese and non-Japanese literature and movies, but there are also plays that are adaptions of Western operas and musicals. According to Marumoto Takashi the changes made to adapt these plays for the Takarazuka stage reveal the unique style of the Revue. This thesis applies Marumoto’s theory of the takarazukalisation-process to one of the Revue’s most popular plays: the adaption of the Austrian musical ‘Elisabeth’. As the greatest change made in the Japanese adaption is the shift from a female to a male protagonist, the first part of this thesis examines the fascination for the otokoyaku that makes them the center of every show. The second part concentrates on theories, why exactly the change of the protagonist was necessary for the Revue’s adaption of ‘Elisabeth’. The final part examines in greater detail the takarazukalisation-process in a direct comparison of the 2016 version of Takarazuka’s ‘Elisabeth’ with the Austrian version of the 2015/16 tour. The scenes selected for this comparison are those that, according to the creators of the play, Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, are crucial to carry the true message of their work. As it turns out those scenes were greatly changed for the Takarazuka adaption, as that version carries a completely different message.

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