“Talk Like Singing,” the off-Broadway musical starring SMAP member Katori Shingo (32, photo left), opened in New York at the end of last week. It is the first-ever original Japanese musical to have its premiere in the U.S. With music by composer, DJ and founding member of Pizzicato Five, Konishi Yasuharu, the show was written and produced by comedy hitmaker Mitani Koki (48, photo right). Katori made his international stage debut alongside cast members Jay Kabira, Horiuchi Keiko, and Niiro Shinya. On preview night November 12, the production received a standing ovation at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University. Meanwhile, despite having had a tooth removed just days earlier, Katori himself gave it 90 out of 100. “I’m delighted. The audience gave us a better reception than I had expected.” The 2-hour production is quite a challenge for Katori, who is on stage for 25 of its 28 songs. The show is running from November 13-22, with the other four SMAP members expected to take it in at some point during the next week.
• Actress Oura Mizuki died on Saturday morning of lung cancer at a Tokyo hospital. She was 53. A former top (Takarazuka star, she left the all-female revue in 1991 but continued her acting career on the stage. She dropped out of a musical in January after coming down with pleurisy. While hospitalized, her cancer was diagnosed and she began to undergo treatment. She had been making a recovery and was scheduled to perform a voice role in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” in Tokyo next January.
• Talento Suzuki Sarina (32) and reggae musician Tela-C held a traditional Shinto wedding ceremony at the Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo on Sunday. The couple registered their marriage back in December 2008 and Suzuki is currently six months pregnant. They plan to honeymoon in Jamaica after the baby is born.
• Actress Yakushimaru Hiroko (45) is to perform a concert in January, her first in 20 years. The former top idol singer will perform one show each in Tokyo and Osaka. The tickets will go on sale for ¥8,940, with the numbers being a pun on her family name. The shows will be combined with a screening of her upcoming movie “Kondo ha Aisaika,” which co-stars Toyokawa Etsushi (47, profile).