Mako, Tough Guy and Musical Leading Man

I don’t have a Filler Clip™ right now that’s specifically TV-related, so here’s one that was at least broadcast on TV. I mentioned the musical Pacific Overtures in my post on Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday last year; since then, someone uploaded a clip of the opening number that’s in much better quality than any other I’ve seen from this broadcast — I wish I knew where the uploader got this copy. (Pacific Overtures was taped in the theatre for broadcast not on U.S. TV, but in Japan, where the show has been popular as one of the few U.S. musicals about Japan.) Like most opening numbers from Stephen Sondheim/Harold Prince musicals, it tells us the premise of the show and presents the “order” that will soon be undermined: eight minutes of exposition, in song and dance, about Japan before the arrival of Commodore Perry.

The clip shows off the choreography by Patricia Birch, who did Grease and staged the dances in Boardwalk Empire (this was one of the last musicals by Sondheim or Prince to have a really strong dance element) and the costumes by Florence Klotz, but mostly it shows off the lead role of Mako as the narrator/reciter/guide to history. Is Mako one of the coolest, toughest guys to be the lead in a major musical? He’s got to be up there. He was up for the Best Actor Tony that year against another incredibly cool lead, Jerry Orbach in Chicago. Both of them lost to a guy playing the supporting part of Alfred Doolittle in a revival of My Fair Lady. So the Tonys can be as inexplicable as the Golden Globes sometimes.


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