The first Japanese actor to star on Broadway four times

In the fall of 2022, Ryoko Yonekura will be appearing on the Broadway stage as Roxie Hart in Chicago. This will be Yonekura's fourth time playing the lead role in the original Broadway production of the famous musical. Her third appearance in 2019 marked the 20th anniversary of her acting career and her fourth will be on the musical's 25th anniversary. No Japanese actor has ever starred on Broadway four times.

Chicago: A true representative of Broadway

Chicago has attracted audiences all over the world with its famous musical numbers such as "All That Jazz" and its top-notch dancers in alluring costumes giving amazing performances which embody the choreographic genius of Bob Fosse. The show premiered on Broadway in 1975 and ran for 936 performances until 1977. In 1996, the curtain was raised on the Broadway revival of the show, and to this day, it continues to hold the record for the longest revival in history, making it a true representative of Broadway.

Photo by Junji Ishiguro

Interview with Ryoko Yonekura

In a press release, Kyodo Tokyo asked Yonekura about her enthusiasm for Chicago which she says she fell in love with the first time she saw it, as well as her fourth appearance on Broadway as Roxie.

Q: What were your honest thoughts when you decided to appear on Broadway for the fourth time?

Yonekura: First of all, I asked myself, "Can I really do this?" When I'm working on a drama, I can't do any kind of exercise. I'm not in an environment where I can train as a dancer, so I wondered if I could do the same as performers who are regularly on Broadway.

When I was in my thirties, I was able to move, and I overcame this problem with pure enthusiasm and willpower. This time, I also decided that if I had a chance to do it, I wanted to do it, so I decided to perform. More than anything, I believe that if I lose my curiosity, it's the end. I can't afford not to try.

Photo by Masahiro Noguchi

Q: What is "CHICAGO" for you?

Yonekura: It's a musical close to my ideals. Human beings have many different parts. There is cuteness, concern, sorrow, and mental sharpness... We all have many conflicting characters living together within us, and I am fascinated by the way this musical portrays those parts. Also, I feel an affinity for Roxie's desire to be better, to survive no matter what it takes. I think I also share her sense that "the grass is greener on the other side" (laughs).

In terms of looks, Velma makes a stronger impression, and I was most captivated by her when I first saw the film [played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the 2002 adaptation]. But Roxie [played by Renée Zellweger] blooms in the middle of the film and steals your heart, so it's fun (laughs). She's inseparable from me and she's probably the role I am most proud of. When I first started playing Roxie, I kept telling myself "be charming, be charming." But now that quite a bit of time has passed, I want to do away with some of that and create a more mature Roxie.

Photo by Masahiro Noguchi

Q: 2022 is going to be a big year for you, isn't it?

Yonekura: I believe that if I lose my curiosity, it's the end. As the name of my private office, Desafío ["challenge" in Spanish] suggests, I want to prioritize "taking on challenges."

I will be starring for the first time in a Netflix original series "The Journalist," which will be released simultaneously worldwide on January 13, 2022. [You can watch the trailer here]. 2022 will be another year of new challenges for me.

Photo by GEKKO

Information on Chicago

  • New York: November 2022 at the Ambassador Theatre (Broadway)
  • Japan: December 2022 at Tokyo International Forum Hall C (Yurakucho)
  • Note: The performance in Japan will be in English by Japanese cast (with subtitles). More details will be forthcoming.
  • Chicago on Broadway official website
  • Chicago Japan official website

By - grape Japan editorial staff.