“Please let me make it!”;
this spirit brought me here
Blue Man Group Show is one of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows. It is relatively unknown that the father of this show is Japanese. Makoto Deguchi, a veteran theatrical producer, is that man. He is now making a move with a new Broadway show, Trip of Love. Just a week before previews in Osaka, Japan, he shares his passion for his new project with Chopsticks New York readers.
Would you tell me about Trip of Love, the show you are currently developing?
First of all, it is a musical dance revue. We use 1960s hit pop songs to make this revue more exciting. There are 26 songs, and all of them ranked in the top ten on the Billboard charts between 1960 and 1969.
That’s exciting. Is there any story line?
Yes, but just roughly. It is a drama with seven main characters. Since it has a revue style, the highlight of the show is the dancing.
The word “revue” reminds me of something a little old-fashioned. Why are you producing it now? Are you planning to give some modern qualities to it?
The choreography for this show is absolutely original and fresh. As you said, revues were very popular during 1930s. What’s really novel in this show is reviving the 30s revue with the power of 60s music in post-2000 New York. I think that’s so new.
How did you come up with this idea?
Actually, the director of the show brought the idea to me nine years ago. It caught me right away. Since then, we’ve been developing the idea, and here we are.
Flashing back to the time you produced Blue Man Group Show, how did you think of that unique idea?
Well, the prototype came from three street performers that my business partner Mark and I found. Then, we decided to expand it and developed their street performance into a theatrical show.
Trip of Love and Blue Man Group Show–do you find any differences and similarities in developing these two shows?
When we developed Blue Man Group Show, there were “characters” from the beginning. This time, we had to create from zero, nothing. This is the difference. As for similarities, I would say the production process. It’s an act of challenging various concepts and making them bigger and bigger. It’s like forming or nurturing something. It is like growing plants.
Like growing plants? So, there is no shortcut.
Right. “Watching something grow” might be the more correct expression.
Then it can be growing toward an unexpected direction.
That might be true. It might turn out to be weeds. [laughs]
If anything, what do you worry about and what do you expect for this show?
I always keep in mind that any accident could happen and anyone could get hurt. No matter how careful we are, we can never predict accidents. So this is my only worry now. I expect Trip of Love will grow into a gorgeous and dazzling musical.
What do you want to show to your audience?
Hmm, it’s hard to describe. It will be a musical in a completely new style you’ve never seen before.
We have never seen before?
Just remember when you first saw Blue Man Group Show. Just like that.
You have a theatrical career in Japan as well as a long career in the US. Do you see any differences in the industry between the two countries?
A lot. I think that dealing in business in Japan requires a lot of connections, which are almost like fetters to me. On the other hand, I think the business world here in the US is more open and there is room for freedom.
You did not use your Japanese background as a selling point to break into the industry. How did you achieve success? Is there any trick?
I have no idea. I just love creating shows. Japanese or American, nationality does not matter. “Please let me make it!”–this spirit brought me here. Although Japan is ranked at the top of the top in hi-tech and automobile industries, I think it is still considered a developing country in terms of the entertainment business. I would like to make a breakthrough in this industry.
———- Interview by Noriko Komura
Trip of Love
This original, larger-than-life musical revue covers numerous aspects of the decade. It celebrates the times through a variety of characters that lead very different lives. These characters are catalysts to the development of one unsuspecting young girl by the name of Caroline. She is a youthful girl of today who, soon after arriving at the theater, is pulled into a mysterious world that catapults her into a journey through the 1960s. The production will feature scenic design by Yomiuri Theater Award winner Shusaku Futamura and James Walski and costume design by Tony Award Winner Gregg Barnes (Legally Blonde, The Drowsy Chaperone).
With an eye toward Broadway, Trip of Love makes its world premiere in Osaka, a city known as the gourmet food capital of Japan, for an audience with an insatiable appetite for American culture. “Osaka is a city on the brink of becoming the next entertainment capital in Japan, and I couldn’t be more proud to debut Trip of Love there with the bountiful support of the city of Osaka and the promotional support of the local media and ticket agencies,” says producer Mr. Deguchi of the unorthodox decision to have the pre-Broadway engagement in Japan.