The interview with Fu Takahashi who plays “L” in the new production of “DEATH NOTE THE MUSICAL”: “On the stage, I will have to be just as enthusiastic as our audience are!”
Recently, musicals and plays which are based on manga, anime or video games have entered into the limelight in Japan’s show business world. We often call them “2.5-dimensional musicals.” More and more of these are being performed overseas, and it’s become one of the most sought-after entertainment genres in the world.
Since its premier in 2015, “DEATH NOTE THE MUSICAL” is one of the musicals massively successful not only in Japan but also in Korea and Taiwan. In 2020, “DEATH NOTE THE MUSICAL” will be back with a new cast. Here is the interview with Fu Takahashi, who has garnered attention since he was cast as “L.” We asked him what makes the new production fascinating.
――You will appear in “DEATH NOTE THE MUSICAL”, which is a super-popular production. And you will play L. How do you feel about that these days?
Of course, I’m happy but it’s a load of pressure (laugh). I would usually get 1,500 to 2,000 likes on my Instagram account, but when I posted that “I will appear on the stage in “DEATH NOTE!” I got 6,000 likes. I was so surprised, and at the same time, understood the gravity of the situation. I know, because it’s that L.
――What do you think about your character, L?
The first “DEATH NOTE” rendition I saw was the film. L, who was played by Kenichi Matsuyama, left a deep impression on me, who at the time was a second grade student. There are cartoon, film, animation and musical versions of “DEATH NOTE”; I think that the character is different in each version and has its own charm. A common thing about L among these versions is that, despite his superficial image as a smart guy who hates losing, he actually feels lonely and needs affection, I imagine. Perhaps he is an orphan – his character suggests so. He tries to control his emotions, like the feelings towards his parents, or romantic feelings; that’s why he is sort of dependent on games or battles of the mind. So I want to play L while thinking about the foundations on which his personality has been formed.
――Light Yagami is double-cast and played by Ryota Murai and Shoma Kai. Please tell us about them.
Shoma is a hard worker and a great team player, who at the same time is very independent. When we work together, I feel his spirit and am overwhelmed by his energy. This is a part of the character of Light Yagami. Whereas Ryota, he is a true actor. To be honest, I think he has nothing in common with Light Yagami; Ryota is so nice, he’s gentle. Still, the most important aspect that the actor should show on the stage is how a young man like everybody else behaves after getting possession of “DEATH NOTE,” which is a lethal weapon. Light, who was just an ordinary high school student, becomes Kira (derived from “killer”), which makes the audience reflect on what they would do if it happened in their real life. That’s why I think Ryota also reflects a part of the character, in a different way from Shoma. I, myself, as L will be different depending on which actor plays Light. So I would love you to come to see both of the double cast.
――The score is by Frank Wildhorn, a renowned Broadway musical composer, the music is supervised by Jason Howland, a winner of the Grammy award, and the staging is by Tamiya Kuriyama, one of the Japan’s best stage directors. This musical is created by an impressive team, isn’t it?
The rehearsal will start next month. Now I’m practicing singing while playing piano myself. Music is amazing. It’s just so powerful, and it can stir up your emotions. Through the lyrics, we can fully communicate the world view of “DEATH NOTE”. This is the best part of musicals.
――There were productions in Korea and Taiwan. Lots of people also came from abroad for the premiere as well as the replay in Japan.
They travel all this way to see our stage. I’ll have to be just as enthusiastic as they are. I’ve always wanted to share the same feelings with the audience by breaking down the wall between players and audience. I love “DEATH NOTE” just like the audience does; we love the same thing. My dream is breaking down the walls between different communities: different races, the rich and the poor, men and women, etc. For me, L is neither a man nor a woman, but gender-neutral. That’s why playing this role has an important meaning for me.
――Any message from you to the fans across the world who are looking forward to seeing the musical?
This is my first time playing in a musical, and to be playing in a production so grand – it’s humbling (laugh). But I’m excited that I got the chance to be L, acting with experienced Ryota Murai and another first-timer like me, Shoma Kai, with the music by Mr. Wildhorn and the staging by Mr. Kuriyama. Playing a big role in my first musical brings a lot of pressure, but I am putting my best efforts and all my energy into the rehearsals. I am looking forward to seeing you in the theater!
Fu Takahashi: Fu started his carrier as a solo singer in September, 2018. He released his first EP “WHITE” on November 7, 2018. His second EP “STEP” was released on March 20, 2019. He announced that he had become a member of a dance and vocal group WATWING while continuing as a solo singer in November, 2019. WATWING will debut in 2020. Fu will play L in “DEATH NOTE THE MUSICAL” which is his first appearance in a musical.
DEATH NOTE THE MUSICALSchedule: January 20, 2020 (Mon)to Feburuary 9, 2020 (Tue)
Place: Tokyo Tatemono Brillia Hall (Toshima Arts and Culture Theater) and other theaters in Shizuoka, Osaka and Fukuoka
*The information herein is as of November 2019.