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Your Lie in April - a new musical playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre

Guest post by Alex James


Your Lie In April has already been successful, having had an anime series, a live action film and an earlier play in Japan. It has deservedly gained a reputation as one of the great modern tear jerkers. Earlier this year we were in the audience for the concert, so I was excited to see the full staged version with this wholly South East Asian cast; a first for London's West End.

The plot focuses on Kōsei Arima (Zheng Xi Yong), a former talented piano player, at the start of the play’s story. His mother's death (Lucy Park) causes such trauma that he cannot play anymore. Her parenting style had been harsh, demanding ever greater success and prowess in each competition he entered. No matter how good he was, it was never enough.


His two friends Tsubaki (Rachael Clare Chan) and Watari (Dean John Wilson) have been encouraging him to try and play piano again with very little luck until a new transfer student, Kaori (Mia Kobayshi) a talented musician herself joins their group, taking initiative in pushing the matter and getting him to play again.


As Kaori continues to lift Kōsei’s spirits, he realises that he loves her, only to have her push him away for her own reasons which are gradually revealed. Your Lie in April is a sweet love story about two young people trying to navigate their way in the world of classical music, underscored with Frank Wildhorn’s wonderfully romantic music.


Sometimes the pacing feels a little rushed, but that is something that is probably inevitable when it comes to adapting a 22-episode series into a musical which lasts about 2 and a half hours. For example, the character of Watari for the most part comes across as comic relief, but in concert version we saw more depth to his character, showing the self doubt. By removing a scene and song from the concert performance we lost some of that rounding of his character.

During the play Yong was playing the piano live, something that I was particularly impressed by, as Kosei regains his passion for music we are treated to a couple of long sequences of him playing. There was a point during one of piano sequences where we got to see a camera’s view of his hands playing the music on the screens behind the set.

Frank Wildhorn is a celebrated Broadway composer who isn't new to creating musical adaptations of anime. He also wrote the music for the Death Note musical which had a run in London last year, a couple of the actors from it appearing here (Wilson and Chan).


Songs I particularly enjoyed were One Hundred Thousand Million Stars, 100 Lost Days, 4.9 (Speed Of Sound), Who Put You In Charge Here and both versions of Perfect. I was very impressed with Mia Kobayashi’s performance during the songs, especially since this is her debut on the West End. She was particularly moving, when she says, "I only told you the one lie".


All in all, I enjoyed Your Lie In April. I’m hoping that with this, Death Note the Musical, My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away that the recent trend of anime stage adaptations continues, especially as it seems to be drawing in a new younger audience for the theatre.


Venue: The Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DN


Tickets from £25


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