Toulouse Lautrec: The Musical

Jun Sawaki
Sawaki Productions
C Aquila

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Musical is a new chamber musical written and performed by Jun Sawaki.

Mr Jun Sawaki makes his first ever appearance outside Japan in C Aquila, yet is better known as the original Phantom in the first Japanese production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera.

The musical follows the life of the famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The production is sung in Japanese with English subtitles, although on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the festival Alex Nasymth will perform the piece in English.

The stage is set with two painting easels; one a mirror, the other displaying subtitles. An electronic keyboard is at the other. Mr Jun Sawaki asks the audience to use their imaginations to fill the rest of the stage.

Yet while the singing is beautiful and Mr Jun Sawaki charming and talented, the story does not live up to the musical prowess. Perhaps the magic is lost in translation but the subtitles portray a very stilted story making it very difficult to engage with the character. At some points the action can be summed up all too abruptly and at others be long and drawn out, neutralising what should be dramatic events.

However, the musical received a warm reception from the largely Japanese audience so the original Japanese version may well be more exciting.

Reviewer: Alison Burns