Dream Live is what you get when you cross Wimbledon with a host club and a certain song from the Lonely Island (video, NSFW). It’s the revue version of Musical Tennis no Oujisama and takes place between plot arcs of the regular musicals in which a junior high tennis team attempt to win the nationals. Dream Live 7th was the climactic run in a seven year-long ‘first season’ and took place in Yokohama Arena in front of around 17,000 fans.
I got to Yokohama on Friday night having dashed across Tokyo from work. I was the only person there in work clothes, with everyone else in either pretty floral dresses or Dream Live T-shirts that they queued for hours to buy. Some had coordinated tennis-themed clothing with their friends.
In the lobby they had smaller booths selling the concert basics that even non-fans want to buy. I say ‘non-fans’, but there aren’t really any here. Tickets are tough to get — you call up a special number and get a lottery number, then ring back a couple of days later to find they don’t have any tickets for you. You go to a convenience store at 10 am on a Sunday morning (there will already be a girl in a pretty floral dress in front of you) and button-mash the ticket machine for 20 minutes until it stops giving you a busy signal and tells you all the regular tickets are sold out. Then your friends take pity on you (they also happen to have won 12 tickets in the lottery) and sell you one of theirs.
Today, there’s just me and my loose tie and jacket, bag full of papers on education and stuff. I only want a penlight (the limited edition sold out) and a program. Unlike theatre programs in Britain which often have a list of scenes plus song titles, these just have lots of photographs and short interviews with the stars. At the booths outside, you can buy sets of photos of every actor appearing for 600 yen each, plus posters and T-shirts. The queue will take several hours to get through, depending on the weather.
The stadium is smoky and the stage is already decked out in blue, yellow and pink rainbows and green disco lights. There’s an announcement about not filming and turning off mobile phones made by the actors who play the ichinen trio. Musicals often get actors to do this standard announcement in character in the hopes people will pay attention. Like airplane safety, you plan to follow as best as you can, but it doesn’t stop it from being part of the scenery.
The lights go out and all the penlights come on and start swaying. They’re mostly blue, because that’s both Team Seigaku and Team Hyoutei’s colour… and also the most commonly available penlight colour. They wave in time to the music and it’s like being on Pandora. Echizen Ryouma, I seeeeee you.
The giant screen above the main stage lights up and shows images of the actors dressed in their tennis gear. The screams are piercing and people are going crazy for certain characters and teams. Speaking as someone who’s never come from the mere sight of a guy in a tennis outfit, I felt more out of place than ever. The girls next to me were jumping up and down and screaming themselves hoarse over Yagyuu.
A full song list can be found here on the Tenipuri_Myu community on Livejournal. They included some of my favourites, including “V.I.C.T.O.R.Y.” and “Aoku Moeru Honoo”.
Next, there was a staged video segment of rehearsals, which let me baffled. Some of people around me were really into some of the actors getting slapped and punished. Compared to previous Dream Lives, there were more songs and fewer skits and fancy costumes. There were more references to the actors-as-actors, rather than their characters.
Then came the First Cast. The actors that portrayed Seigaku in the very first run of the musical. Perhaps… I am a fan after all. I’ve never seen these guys as their characters live, although I will admit to being a fan of Tuti (Tsuchiya Yuuichi) when he acts as Gin in Rock Musical Bleach. Their appearance means different things to different people. It’s been seven years since Tenimyu first started and for many people this is their last chance to see the cast that started it for them. For others it’s a chance to see the cast that came before that they’ve never seen live.
They sang the iconic “Kore ga Seigaku Regularjin na no da” and a character medley from the first musical. When they did the talk segment, they seemed strangely plastic and younger than I remembered. There must have been a hell of a lot of make-up involved and possibly a bit of stage fright. The first time, they spent the entire segment having Kimeru saying other character’s catchphrases. He could’ve sung “You Got Game?” in that time instead. Second time around was much better and involved Inui’s juice.
After more songs is another talk segment with actors who portrayed characters in previous musical. At the first show I attended, this was fairly awkward. Most of them weren’t quite sure what they were doing there or what was expected. Of the first group, I was only really interested in Toyanaga Toshiyuki, but mainly because of his work as a voice actor. The second group I saw included Miyano Mamoru (another voice actor) and everyone had much more to say.
The concert finished off with two ending themes — “F.G.K.S” and “On My Way”. It occurred to me that they hadn’t sang “Season” yet, which was recently voted the most popular song from the Tenimyu franchise on the official site. Ueshima-sensei (the dance mastermind behind choreography) came out and announced it as the last song. Deep down, I have to admit that is the kind of trivia only fans can remember.
If you liked this review, you can check out my review of the second Kuroshitsuji musical or see my list of the top ten anime musicals and stage shows.