Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for CurtainUp NYC Weather
|A CurtainUp Review
Tokyo Can Can 2
Contrary to what some theater goers think, critics don't love writing negative critiques. However, into every critic's life the show which can't conjure up even a few positive things to say before getting down to the sad business of telling readers the truth and nothing but the truth. Tokyo Can Can 2 is such a show. It has energy and enthusiasm but little else to recommend it.
Judging from the advance promotional literature it seemed like a good follow-up to our recent review of another Asian-American musical, Making Tracks. Unfortunately, Tokyo Can Can 2 hasn't an iota of the charm, heart or talent demonstrated in that show. Since I was out of town when the first Tokyo Can Can premiered at St. Clements Theater two summers ago, I can't comment upon the extent to which it has been re-worked from that version (according to the press release the book is more than 50% new and there are seven new musical numbers). All I can say is that however extensive the revisions, Tokyo Can Can 2 must be one of those vehicles that eludes all improvement.
Its basic premise is to depict life in post World War II told primarily through a sixteen year old shoeshine boy named Taro (Travis Leung), his girl friend Hanako (Hiromi Dames), his older sister Sakura (Jennifer Little) and her American lover Joe (Michael Leonard James). These key players are part of a cast of fourteen, plus a three-piece band. An ambitious endeavor for a small company! An article about the play quotes Yotata Okada, its writer and director (and to demonstrate added versatility, set designer), as hoping that American audiences won't be uncomfortable at some of the images of cruelty on the part of the occupation army. His worries are unfounded. If audiences are uncomfortable it's at what's happening on this stage in terms of quality of script, acting, music and choreography. Tokyo Can Can 2 may have its heart in the right place but it's a No Can Do as a valid musical theater piece.
Since I believe in truth in labeling, it's only fair to state that these comments are based on the first act (one hour). Seeing no possibility of better things to come I broke my rule about never walking out on a show and left at the intermission.