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PACIFIC OVERTURES a musical play in two acts. Book by John Weidman; additional material by Hugh Wheeler. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. First performance staged and produced by Harold Prince at the Winter Garden, New York, 11 January 1976 with Mako (Reciter), Isao Sato (Kayama), Sab Shimono (Manjiro), Yuki Shimoda (Lord Abe), Haruki Fujimoto (Perry) and Alvin Ing (Shogun's Mother). Produced at the Forum, Wythenshawe, Manchester, England, 30 April 1986 with Simon Clark, Paul Hegarty, Paul Baden, Christopher Brown, Mitch Sebastian and Thom Booker. Produced by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum, 10 September 1987 with Richard Angas, Malcolm Rivers, Christopher Booth-Jones, John Kitchiner, Graham Fletcher and Simon Masterton-Smith. STORY Act I Conceived as a sort of Japanese playwright's version of an American musical about American influences on Japan, Pacific Overtures begins its journey to the present day in July 1853. Since the foreigners were driven from the island empire, explains the Reciter, there has been nothing to threaten the changeless cycle of their days. Elsewhere, wars are fought and machines are rumbling but in Nippon they plant rice, exchange bows and enjoy in peace and serenity. But President Fillmore, determined to open up trade with Japan, has sent Commodore Perry across the Pacific, and. to the consternation of Lord Abe and the Shogun's other Councillors, US warships have been sighted at Okinawa. Kayama is appointed Prefect of the Police at Uraga to drive the Americans away - news which leaves Tamate, his wife, grief-stricken. As he leaves, she expresses her feelings in dance as two Observers describe the scene and reveal her thoughts in "There Is No Other Way". As a Fisherman, Merchant and other locals relate the sight of the "Four Black Dragons" roaring through the sea, an extravagant Oriental caricature of the USS Powhatan pulls into harbour: Commodore Perry announces that he must meet the Shogun within six days or else he will shell the city. Faced with this ultimatum the Shogun takes to his bed. Exasperated by his indecision, his Mother with elaborate courtesy, poisons him with "Chrysanthemum Tea." With the Shogun dead, Kayama devises a plan by which the Americans, thanks to a covering of tatami mats and a raised Treaty House, can be received without having, technically, to set foot on Japanese soil. He and his aide the fisherman Manjiro set off for Uraga, forging a band of friendship through the exchange of "Poems". Already, though, events are moving beyond the control of the old order: the two men pass a Madam instructing her inexperienced Girls in the art of seduction as they prepare to "Welcome to Kanagawa" the foreign devils. LogoCommodore Perry and his men come ashore and, on their "March to the Treaty House", demonstrate their goodwill by offering such gifts as two bags of Irish potatoes and a copy of Owen's "Geology of Minnesota". The negotiations themselves are seen through the memory of an old man and his younger self -"Someone In a Tree", watching silently as history changes course. Initially, it seems as if Kayama has won: the Americans depart in peace. But then the barbarian figure of Commodore Perry leaps out to perform a traditional Kabuki "Lion Dance", which ends as a strutting, triumphalist, all-American cakewalk. Act II To the surprise of Lord Abe, now the new Shogun, and Kayama, now Governor of Uraga, the Americans return to bid the Japanese court "Please Hello" and to request formal trading arrangements. They are