Hayato Kakizawa finally gets to play his dream role in ‘Blood Brothers’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hayato Kakizawa

Actor Hayato Kakizawa, primarily known for his work in musicals, is set to star in the acclaimed show “Blood Brothers,” a musical he has dreamed of being a part of for a long time. This spring, he will play the role of one of the twins, Mickey, alongside Eiji Wentz’s Edward.

Kakizawa started his career at Shiki Theatre Company, then moved on to make his name on TV and on stage. He recently sat down with The Yomiuri Shimbun to discuss his career so far, as well as his thoughts about the musical.

“Blood Brothers” is about fraternal-twin boys. One of the twins, Edward, is adopted by a wealthy family, while Mickey is raised by his mother and grows up in poverty. Having led contrasting lives, the twins meet without knowing they are brothers and become friends, but their lives soon go in completely different directions.

The British musical by Willy Russell premiered in the West End in 1983 to great success.

Kakizawa watched a previous production of “Blood Brothers” and was deeply moved.

“I don’t normally do this, but I bought tickets several times and have seen it five or six times,” he said.

In the musical, each actor portrays his character both as a child and as an adult.

“An adult actor has to sweat and work really hard to play a 7-year-old boy,” he said. “It was beautiful and looked fun.”

Since seeing the musical, he constantly told everyone around him that he wanted to play Mickey, and that dream finally came true.

The phrase, “Born the same day, these two are fated to die the same day,” is written on the playbill, letting the audience know that the story will follow their lives and inevitably end with their deaths.

Kakizawa said: “They can’t fight their fate. Their childhood is depicted at a fast pace, and it’s comical and energetic, and their adolescent years are shown in a refreshing way. The more lightheartedly we play their childhood years, the more apparent the sadness becomes afterward. The audience will probably feel like they want to protect them.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hayato Kakizawa, left, and Eiji Wentz in a promotional image for “Blood Brothers”

Kakizawa said he observed the movements of his 7-year-old nephew before rehearsals started. He realized that every move his nephew made was adorable. He also moved in ways that seemed to have meaning, but in fact, were meaningless. Kakizawa tried to incorporate those aspects into creating the character of Mickey, but when rehearsals began, he realized his plan might not work and he had to adjust.

“Adults find children cute, but kids are very serious about everything they do,” he said. “I thought it was important not to imitate children, but to go all out and leave myself bare.”

Kakizawa said that he first practiced releasing all of his emotions — almost to the point of exaggeration — and then refined the performance with the help of director Kotaro Yoshida.

“It’s a musical, but it’s still a play,” Kakizawa said. “So, rather than singing like, ‘The song starts here. I’m good, right? I’m cool, right?’ I want to sing as if I’m saying the lines. And if I can portray the character’s feelings more clearly that way, I think the audience will be further drawn in.”

In recent years, Kakizawa has not only worked on stage but on TV shows and films as well. It has also been announced that he will appear on “Kamakura-dono no Jusan-nin” (“The 13 Lords of the Shogun”), this year’s annual historical epic on NHK.

So, what does he like about being an actor?

“[I like] that I can release the energy I have pent up from everyday life … things that make me happy, as well as the things that make me so mad that I want to scream at the top of my lungs,” Kakizawa said. “There are no right answers or goals when it comes to theater. I’d like to go on learning and acting for the rest of my life.”

Wentz’s thoughts

Hayato Kakizawa, left, and Eiji Wentz are seen during a table-read of “Blood Brothers.”

What does Eiji Wentz, who costars in “Blood Brothers,” think of Kakizawa?

“He’s full of energy,” Wentz said. “He has the ability to effectively fill the space no matter how large, and I’m hoping to absorb that energy into my performance. He inspires me in many ways.”

Wentz said he hopes the audience will leave the show feeling thoroughly exhausted.

“I’m all for feeling pleasantly fatigued and uplifted,” he said. “I will definitely draw something out of the audience!”

“Blood Brothers” is scheduled to continue at the Tokyo International Forum through April 3. The musical can then be seen in Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, on April 9 and 10; Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, on April 15-17; and Osaka on April 21-24.