SMAP member Katori Shingo (32, photo left) is to make his return to the stage – on Broadway no less. Well, actually off Broadway, but the local media has been reporting it as the first time for an original Japanese stage production to play New York’s famous theater district. Katori will star in the musical comedy “Talk Like Singing,” written and produced by the prolific Mitani Koki (47, photo right). The supporting cast includes Kabira Jay (46), whose mother is American, and Horiuchi Keiko (38), a veteran of such musicals as “Cats” and “West Side Story.” The musical director is Konishi Yasuharu (50), a former member of the J-pop pioneers Pizzicato Five, who wrote and produced Katori’s million-selling single “Shingo Mama no Oha Rock” in 2000. The production is scheduled for 13 shows, November 12-22 at the 850-seat Skirball Center, New York University. Japanese audiences will have to wait until next year to see the show at home. Katori last acted on stage 12 years ago, but in the meantime he has appeared in a slew of big-budget movies and TV dramas as the five members of SMAP have ascended into the ranks of Japan’s most marketable celebrities. He has worked with Mitani several times before, including the NHK taiga drama “Shinsengumi.”
• Management for Tomizawa Takeshi (35) yesterday announced that the comedian got hitched back in April. They described his new bride as a 30-year old ippanjin native of Tokyo. Tomizawa is the boke half of manzai duo Sandwichman, who made their big breakthrough when they won a comedy Grand Prix event in 2007. His comic partner Date Mikio (34) recently announced that he is engaged to marry freelance TV announcer Kumagai Maiko (38) in July.
• Young singer Aoyama Teruma (21) has recorded the theme song for the Japanese release of the movie “Hachiko: A Dog’s Story.” “Wasurenai yo” will be heard at theaters across the country from June 13. Directed by the renowned Lasse Hallstrom and starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen, the movie is a Hollywood adaptation of one of the most famous stories in contemporary Japan. It tells of a professor who brings his Akita dog with him when he moves to prewar Tokyo. The strong bond between the two continues even after death, with the faithful dog waiting for the return of his master outside Shibuya station every evening for ten years. Today a famous statue stands in that same spot and it has become a popular meeting place. The story has been adapted several times for both the big and small screen in Japan, and the new movie will be released here as “Hachi, Yakusoku no Inu.”