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Pacific Overtures (1976)

Set in 1853 Japan, Pacific Overtures follows the Westernization of Japan, mainly through the story of Kayama, a samurai, and Manjiro, a fisherman. The lives of both men are radically changed by the coming of American ships to Japan.


Marty Pasetta


John Weidman (book), Hugh Wheeler (additional material)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mako ... Reciter / Shogun / Jonathan Goble
Soon-Tek Oh ... Tamate / Samurai / Storyteller / Swordsman
Yuki Shimoda ... Abe - First Councillor
Sab Shimono ... Manjiro
Isao Sato Isao Sato ... Kayama
Alvin Ing ... Shogun's Mother / Observer / Merchant / American Admiral
Ernest Harada ... Physician / Madam / British Admiral
James Dybas ... Second Councillor / Old Man / French Admiral
Mark Syers Mark Syers ... Samurai / Thief / Soothsayer / Warrior / Russian Admiral / British Sailor (as Mark Hsu Syers)
Patrick Kinser-Lau Patrick Kinser-Lau ... Shogun's Companion / Dutch Admiral / British Sailor / Girl
Ernest Abuba Ernest Abuba ... Samurai / Adams / Noble
Timm Fujii Timm Fujii ... Son / Priest / Girl / Noble / British Sailor
Haruki Fujimoto Haruki Fujimoto ... Servant / Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry
Larry Hama ... Williams / Lord of the South
Jae Woo Lee Jae Woo Lee ... Fisherman / Sumo Wrestler / Lord of the South


Set in 1853 Japan, Pacific Overtures follows the Westernization of Japan, mainly through the story of Kayama, a samurai, and Manjiro, a fisherman. The lives of both men are radically changed by the coming of American ships to Japan.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis









Release Date:

1976 (Japan) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


This is the original Broadway production, which was videotaped for Japanese public television, and broadcast with subtitles. See more »


Reciter: [as Emperor Meiji] The day when others speak for me is past! From now on, my word shall be law, and mine alone. I am the Emperor Meijii! Rise and listen - rise! No more will we draw sword, one Japanese against another. Those who have committed murder in my name have been misguided. In the future they will be restrained - along with those who have encouraged them! Rise! From this day forth, all Samurai will put aside their swords, and cease to wear their crested robes. They will take up useful ...
See more »


Referenced in Anatomy of a Song (1976) See more »


Welcome To Kanagawa
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Ernest Harada, Patrick Kinser-Lau, Timm Fujii and Gedde Watanabe
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent production of an interesting musical
20 September 2013 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Pacific Overtures is not one of Stephen Sondheim's best, and it's easy to see why critics were divided by it and it doesn't have the best of stories in the world. It does however have one of his greatest songs in Someone in a Tree(Sondheim himself thought so), it is interesting for the use of Kabuki and the lyrics as ever with Sondheim are very intelligently crafted. And this performance is a classic. The production values aren't grand and orchestra doesn't have the epic sweep of some of Sondheim's other musicals and other performances of his work. However the costumes and sets are pretty to watch with an authentic Oriental style and the orchestra still play beautifully. The drama is compellingly staged, with poignancy and power in abundance, and Please Hello in particular matches the mixed styles used in the song. The songs are excellent across the board, especially Mako's definitive performance- if you're in doubt see his rendition of There is No Other Way- and Alan Ing, Chrysanthemum Tea shows complete command of the lyrics and Welcome to Kanagawa is funny. All in all, Pacific Overtures is interesting and this 1976 production with the original cast if memory serves correct is just great. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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