Justin’s Japan: Ryoko Yonekura Returns to ‘Chicago’

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi  (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

This month, “Chicago,” the longest-running American Broadway musical in history, features Japanese superstar actress Ryoko Yonekura in the role of Roxie Hart for 11 performances from July 3-13 at the Ambassador Theatre.

Yonekura originated the role of Hart in the Japanese-language production of “Chicago” in 2008 and played it again in 2010. She then learned the role in English and made her Broadway debut in 2012. Following her return to Broadway this year, Yonekura will join the “Chicago” U.S. national touring company in Tokyo August 2-13 at the Tokyu Theater Orb.

An actress who has enjoyed a steady career in film and television in Japan since the year 2000, Yonekura is best known from the TV Asahi series “Doctor X.” Recently, she appeared for an intimate discussion and meet and greet at Asia Society on June 27.

“Ryoko Yonekura is an amazing bridge builder between the U.S. and Japan. In 2012, she became the first Japanese person in the history of Broadway to play a major character as an American. We are really excited to have Ryoko back in New York,” said Josette Sheeran, president and CEO of Asia Society.

Featuring classic tunes by John Kander and Fred Ebb, “Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart, a Jazz age nightclub dancer who murders her lover after an argument, and the media sensationalism that follows. Originally produced for Broadway in 1975 and revived in 1996, the show won six Tony Awards the following year, and the 2002 film adaptation starring Reneè Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. For tickets, visit www.chicagothemusical.com.