The 20th anniversary of Akira Kurosawa’s death will be marked with a brand new musical based on the director’s 1952 film Ikiru. Details about the adaptation are still fairly scarce, but the official website lists October 2018 as the premiere month and the TBS Akasaka ACT Theater as the venue. Tickets will come on sale in June.
Typically considered one of Kurosawa’s most important works, Ikiru is a story about a terminally ill bureaucrat that examines questions about finding meaningfulness in life, health, family relations, friendship, institutional bureaucracy and contemporary Japanese society.
The musical adaptation will be written by Chikae Takahashi, an established Japanese playwright and translator, while the music will be composed by the American Grammy Award winning composer Jason Howland, whose previous works include such Broadway musicals as Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Little Women and Les Misérables. The show will be directed by Amon Miyamoto, a hugely prolific, award-winning Japanese director who has worked across performing art genres around the world.
The clearly talented creative team will be joined by an equally big name cast that includes Masachika Ichimura and Takeshi Kaga who have been double cast as the story’s protagonist Kanji Watanabe. The role of the life-affirming Toyo will be similarly double cast, with the young pop singers May’n and Yuzuki Fūka stepping into the character’s shoes.
In 2015, an official musical adaptation of Samurai 7 opened in Japan, while there have also been unofficial musical adaptations of Kurosawa’s works, primarily based on Rashomon. To the best of my knowledge, however, the upcoming Ikiru adaptation will be the first musical directly based on a Kurosawa film.