Consul general of Japan knows his role in opera
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
|Masatoshi Muto, right, consul general of Japan, joins Katisha, played by Marion Pratnicki, in his theatrical debut in "The Mikado."
An operetta by Gilbert & Sullivan, produced by Hawaii Opera Theatre
8 p.m. today, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Blaisdell Concert Hall
$20-$75 tonight (10 percent discount for military); $10 for Saturday matinee (one in party of four must be younger than 18);
$20 for seats Saturday
He's not on tonight, however, because of a previous commitment (KITV-4's Pamela Young subs, appearing as a representative of the consul general), but he returns to the limelight in the remaining shows Saturday and Sunday.
"I didn't know there were six performances. I thought there would be fewer," said Muto, 55, who is making his theatrical debut with this brief cameo in Act II. The haori (outer garment) he wears was provided by HOT; the fan he carries is his own; the personality he projects is wholly his.
"My first question, when asked to participate was 'Am I going to sing?,' " he remarked. "Gladly, the answer was no."
Muto requested a DVD copy of a London performance to get the flavor of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. "They gave me a script, but director Henry Akina told me I can add anything and say something different each night. But keep it short. That means I can do no wrong."
We asked Muto Five Questions about his brush with show biz and fame:
Q. What's it like, being on stage?
A. "It's been a lot of fun, though I cannot see the people out there. It's all dark. The last time I was on stage, I said a couple of words in Japanese; and I thanked them for coming out (to see 'The Mikado')."
Q. Did you have stage fright?
A. "Of course I was nervous. But it's been fun."
Q. What do you say?
A. "I tell the people that this performance has nothing to do with Japan. That I enjoy the fantasy of Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Sullivan. I'm told that the emperor is entering, so as consul general, I introduce him."
Q. How different is your character on stage vs. off?
A: "I've been consul general for a year and 10 months, and I'm pretty much the same way (on and off stage). I tend to be as humorous as possible when I speak, so being in front of a theater crowd is basically the same. Except I have never addressed more than 2,000 people (the concert hall seats 2,100), only a couple of hundred. I'm doing this because it's important for me to get to know people; I think it's good for public relations."
Q. Now that you've gotten your feet wet, do you foresee doing more shows?
A. "I don't think so, but the people seem to be enjoying (the show). Laughter makes acting fun; I love the reaction the performers are getting from the audience. I've enjoyed the backstage experience fascinating and
I've also watched the show from the audience when I wasn't on. It's possible that I could do something ... but I don't sing."
Reach Wayne Harada at 525-8067, email@example.com, or fax 525-8055.