Morisaki aims to create his own character in ‘Pippin’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Win Morisaki talks about the title character in the musical “Pippin.” “There is no one more pure than Pippin. He is always swayed by people around him and dives into all sorts of things. That’s the charm,” he said.

Win Morisaki is shining bright these days as an actor and singer, and he has added to the gleam by taking on a role that stretches his talent to the limit.

Morisaki is playing the title role in the Japanese version of the award-winning Broadway musical “Pippin,” currently being staged at the Tokyu Theatre Orb in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. The run will last through Sept. 19.

“This is a show that after watching it, listening to it, taking in the atmosphere, will make people say, ‘I feel great. Tomorrow, let’s all go out and do our best,’” Morisaki said. “If you’re looking for inspiration, this is a must-see.”

The story centers on Pippin, the firstborn son of medieval European emperor Charlemagne, who is looking for the meaning of life. It is a philosophical tale about the mysteries of growing up. First performed on Broadway in 1972 under the direction and choreography of the legendary Bob Fosse, it became a classic, winning a slew of Tony Awards. The Japanese show is based on a significantly revamped 2013 version that incorporates circus acrobatics from Cirque du Soleil.

The first production in Japan, starring Yu Shirota in 2019, was well received. In fact, “it was the first musical that I ever bought a ticket for,” Morisaki revealed.

“The level of perfection as entertainment was too amazing. Not just the singing and dancing, but the story is exciting and nail-biting,” he said. “It was like we in the audience were experiencing the same thing as Pippin.”

Crystal Kay made her musical debut in that production in the role of the Leading Player, earning high praise for her singing and dancing. She and most of the other cast members are also performing in the current show.

Morisaki has been putting more time into his singing career, and he does not compromise in the stage performance.

“In a musical, acts must connect smoothly with the ones before and after. The singing also has to be on a high level,” he said. “I don’t want to change my voice to create a character. I want to get as close to becoming one with the character as I can.”

Morisaki said that in each performance, he wants to reflect Pippin’s feelings, which seem to change from day to day.

“Instead of safe and secure, I want to be in an uncertain place,” Morisaki said. “It’s easy to stray from the rules, but I want to move around within the rules while maintaining quality. I think that’s the great thing about live performances.”

This is the third year in a row for Morisaki to star in a musical, having previously appeared in “West Side Story” in 2020 and “Jamie” in 2021. While he is currently on a roll, he is humble in his self-assessment, saying he is the one who puts pressure on himself.

“I’m really lucky to be here,” he said. “I think there are parts that I can overcome with sensitivity and feelings and other parts that I really need to study to keep going. So I want to acquire knowledge and find the right methods for me.”

There is no doubt that one aspect of “Pippin” is the ability of the singing, dancing and acrobatics on the glamorous stage to make people forget reality.

“But conversely, it also poses questions on various real things like war, finding oneself and what is true happiness,” Morisaki said. “In a changing world where the ordinary is no longer ordinary, this is a production that also touches on that.”