Jonathan Soble’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/14; via Pam Green.)

YOKOHAMA, Japan — On any given night outside a theater in central Tokyo, hundreds of women can be found waiting in neat phalanxes, dressed in matching T-shirts or sporting identical colored handkerchiefs — the uniform of what may be the most rabidly loyal fans in Japanese entertainment.

The stars they’re hoping to glimpse are women, too, actresses who play both male and female roles in the 102-year-old Takarazuka Revue, an enduringly successful theater company that is bringing its gender-twisting take on the Broadway musical to the Lincoln Center Festival from July 20 to 24.

In Takarazuka’s “Chicago,” women play the sultry Velma and Roxie as well as the swaggering Billy Flynn and the hapless-schmoe Amos. The dialogue is in Japanese, but at a recent dress rehearsal here, the attitude and staging were all-American, loyal to the vaudeville-inspired production that has been running on Broadway for two decades.


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