On March 15th it was announced that actress Yonekura Ryoko will be making her Broadway debut in the musical “CHICAGO” in July. She will be the first Japanese actress to star in a Broadway musical since Nancy Umeki (also known as Miyoshi Umeki) did so back in 1958. Moreover it’s going to be the first time ever that a Japanese actor / actress will be portraying the role of an American character in a Broadway musical.
The actress already starred in the Japanese version of “CHICAGO” in 2008 and 2010. By the end of the second run in 2010, they came up with the idea to perform it in its original language in America. The American producers were intrigued by the idea and requested several videos in order to approve of her English skills, as well as her great singing and dancing capabilities. During the summer of 2011, they recorded and sent a total of seven videos to America.
On March 13th, it finally became official that she is going to perform as ‘Roxie Hart’ in America. “We all got together, gave each other a big hug and held our hands in joy when we heard the news,” Yonekura revealed. “It’s such a big chance for me.”
The performance with Yonekura in the starring role is going to last for one week only, but American choreographer Gary Krist is sure that this will be more than enough time to blow away the American audience. “If anyone can do it, it’s Ryoko,” he said. “She’s one of the best actresses around and it should be no problem for her to wow the American audience with her beauty, charm and humor.”
His great compliments even moved her to tears.
Yonekura herself continued, “‘CHICAGO’ is one of my big treasures in life. I was born for this musical only.” However, she also openly talked about the pressure and that it surely won’t be as easy task to perform it in America. “A certain panic is setting in now, it’s Broadway after all. Maybe I never should have mentioned that I’d like to perform on Broadway. On the other hand, it’s always good to say what you want to do, right?”
Since it’s always been her goal to extend her career overseas, Yonekura started studying English several years agoe. Ever since the idea arose of performing this musical on Broadway, she has been training extra hard with three to four English lessons a week. It’s very apparent that she’s working hard to fulfill her dreams.
“I’d like to show myself as a self-confident Asian woman,” she concluded the press conference.