If you go to see the all-female Takarazuka Revue, the 100-year-old Japanese wundertroupe now at Lincoln Center Festival, don’t leave during the curtain call — hang on for the coda. The marquee production is a licensed copy of Bob Fosse’s Chicago, one that, though crisply danced, makes you hanker after the Broadway version a few blocks away. But Chicago is an outlier in the group’s repertoire. Takarazuka actually specializes in candy-colored fantasias, romantic musicals of enormous and gleeful cheese. And that camp-tastic tendency only emerges after those killer-dillers Velma and Roxie have cocked their hips for the final time.
There are bows; we applaud. And then with a palpable whoosh of relief, the ensemble flings itself out of those familiar black bodystockings and into Takarazuka Encore, a half-hour-long Rockettes-meets-Eurovision assault on the senses, which includes a Moulin Rouge kickline, a tango to a Roxanne cover, and an escalating series of ostrich feather fantails. The wackiness quickly supersedes Kander and Ebb’s musical (particularly since the group’s palpable sweetness never quite matches that show’s blackhearted vaudeville). There is one crucial exception: the astonishing Saori Mine as lawyer Billy Flynn. She moves like Astaire; she slays with a nod. Because of the troupe’s rotating approach to lead roles, other members will replace her on upcoming nights. Here’s hoping they’ll have her razzle-dazzle.
Lincoln Center Festival: Takarazuka in Chicago
Direction re-created by David Hyslop
David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, Manhattan
Through July 24
Check out more scenes from the production below: