Tokyo Rose ★★★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Sep 23 - Oct 16, 2021


Tokyo Rose tells the story of a woman born in the USA to Japanese parents. During the Second World War, she is accused of broadcasting propaganda for the enemy and is put on trial for treason. Her story may not be very well known in the UK but that shouldn't be a barrier to success; just think of other shows based on historical characters such as Eva Perón or Alexander Hamilton. There is a subtle connection to both of these shows musically as well. Despite the historical context, Tokyo Rose is very much a musical of today, both in style and content. The show vibrates with life and vitality right from the superb opening number performed with tremendous verve by the cast of six women. Hannah Benson directs, choreographs and arranges the music with such flair that we were swept away by it. The singing is stunning throughout, even if occasionally it seems a little overwrought. Playing Iva Toguri, who becomes known as Tokyo Rose, Maya Britto sings her heart out as "a child of America and an orphan of Japan." William Patrick Harrison's music gives her superbly powerful and despairing songs including "Caught in the Crossfire" and "I Am America." Kanako Nakano and Lucy Park also shine as Iva's aunt and father. The denouement isn't obvious and keeps us guessing right to the final curtain. At the end of the performance, we joined the euphoric audience in roaring approval and praise for all concerned. We're hoping that Tokyo Rose will soon launch itself into the West End where it will certainly come into full bloom.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Steve Gregson.

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