Grateful Crane’s Kouhaku Spoof Coming to Torrance

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Grateful Crane members recreate performances by some of Japan’s most popular entertainers.

TORRANCE — “Natsukashi no Kouhaku Uta Gassen,” a nostalgic and entertaining spoof of Japan’s famous New Year’s Eve singing contest, will be returning to Southern California on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m. at the James Armstrong Theatre in Torrance.

Presented by the Grateful Crane Ensemble, this two-act show features 28 hits in the singing contest format made popular every year on NHK’s nationally televised “Kouhaku Uta Gassen.” Grateful Crane’s version pits the Red Team (women) vs. the White Team (men) as they portray some of Japan’s most famous singers singing their most famous songs. At the end of the show, the winner of the contest will be determined by a vote from the audience.

In 2010, Grateful Crane performed this show to three sold-out audiences at the Japanese American National Museum’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum.

“People had so much fun back in 2010 that we decided to bring it back,” said Soji Kashiwagi, executive producer of Grateful Crane. “This show is a fun way to present the nostalgic songs that our audiences like. But it’s also a celebration of a long-standing tradition of Japanese Americans and Japanese from Japan watching ‘Kouhaku’ every New Year’s Eve here in America,” he said.

What makes “Natsukashi no Kouhaku Uta Gassen” unique and different, he explained, is that this show is a spoof and all the performers are doing “monomane,” or humorous impressions of famous Japanese singers such as Misora Hibara, Sen Masao, Itsuki Hiroshi, Yamaguchi Momoe, Mikawa Kenichi, SMAP, Saijo Hideki, Go Hiromi and Nakamura Mitsuko, to name a few.

Popular songs such as “Kitaguni no Haru,” “Ringo Oiwake,” “Yuraku-Cho de Aimashou,” “Kawachi Otoko Bushi,” and “Sen no Kaze ni Natte” will be featured along with many more.

Directed by long-time Grateful Crane member Keiko Kawashima, the show features Aaron Aoki, Loryce Hashimoto, Haruye Ioka, Kawashima, Hideo Kimura, Darrell Kunitomi, Kurt Kuniyoshi, Aimee Machida, Merv Maruyama, Junko Nakamura, Helen H. Ota, Shaun Shimoda and Fusako Shiotani.

“People who know ‘Kouhaku’ and have watched it for years will recognize every song and know every singer,” said Kashiwagi. “Hearing these songs again will bring back good memories from New Year’s past.”

The James Armstrong Theatre is located at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, 3330 Civic Center Drive.  General admission tickets are $35. For reservations, leave a message on the Grateful Crane ticket line at (310) 995-5841, and you will receive a call back to confirm your order.

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  1. I saw this show at JANM’s Democracy Center and it was fantastic, especially if you’re a fan of Kōhaku Uta Gassen! I really enjoyed their tribute to Okinawa, which included Rimi Natsukawa’s “Nada Sousou” and BEGIN’s “Shimanchu nu Takara,” as well as enka numbers like “Amagi Goe” and “Makka Na Taiyou”. The Grateful Crane performers did a wonderful job mimicking (or parodying) the mannerisms of Kōhaku singers, which were accentuated by the great work of the hair/wardrobe department… all of these elements considered, it’s difficult to categorize this as simply a singing contest!

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