Natsukashi no Kouhaku Uta Gassen Returns

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kohaku uta gassenTORRANCE — The singing showdown is back.

“Natsukashi no Kouhaku Uta Gassen,” the Grateful Crane Ensemble’s entertaining spoof of NHK’s nationally televised singing contest, “Kouhaku Uta Gassen,” is returning on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m. at the James Armstrong Theatre in Torrance.

Back again in 2014, this year’s show will once again pit the White Team (men) vs. the Red Team (women) as they sing some of the most famous Japanese songs of all time.

“We call this show ‘Natsukashi’ because our Kouhaku is all about the nostalgic songs we grew up with in the ’60s and ’70s,” said Soji Kashiwagi, Grateful Crane executive producer. “It’s ‘Kouhaku’ the way it used to be, with all the best singers and all the best songs.”

Some of the songs to be featured in the show include “Kitaguni no Haru” (Sen Masao), “Ringo Oiwake” (Misora Hibari), “Ii Hi Tabidachi” (Yamaguchi Momoe) and “Yokohama Tasogare (Itsuki Hiroshi), to name a few.

At the end of the show, audience members in attendance will determine the 2014 champion by waving either a white or red fan in the air. According to Kashiwagi, this show has been performed four times since 2010, with the men’s and women’s teams winning twice each.

“This year’s winner will break the tie,” he said. But he was quick to point out that the show is a spoof of the competition, so “it’s not as much about a contest, but more about fun.”

Cast members for the show include Aaron Aoki, Loryce Hashimoto, Haruye Ioka, Keiko Kawashima, Hideo Kimura, Darrell Kunitomi, Kurt Kuniyoshi, Aimee Machida, Merv Maruyama, Helen H. Ota, Shaun Shimoda and Fusako Shiotani.

Also featured this year will be a special guest appearance by the 2014 Nisei Week Court: Queen Tori Nishinaka-Leon, First Princess Lindsey Sugimoto, Miss Tomodachi Ashley Arikawa, Princess Tiffany Hashimoto, Princess Melissa Kozono and Princess Dominique Mashburn. They will be singing “Furusato,” a song that was made popular by the Japanese boy band Arashi, and has since become a song of hope and inspiration for the people of Tohoku.

General admission tickets are $30. Groups of 10 or more are $25 per person. The James Armstrong Theater is located at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, 3330 Civic Center Dr. in Torrance. For reservations, call the Grateful Crane ticket line at (310) 995-5841.

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