Theatre Thursdays: Death Note the Musical

No, you read that title right. Death Note, the manga/anime about a high school student who murders murderers by writing their name down in his magical notebook… it’s actually a lot cooler than I’m making it sound.

While the anime and manga were incredibly interesting, my question is… will the story make a great musical?

(art by ZeroSoul)

(art by ZeroSoul)

Here is what we know so far: It’s set to premiere sometime in 2015, it is only going to be performed in Japan and South Korea, the composer is Frank Wildhorn of Jekyll and Hyde fame, the lyricist is Jack Murphy, Tamiya Kuriyama is the theater director, and casting is currently taking place. I don’t know much about Tamiya Kuriyama and Jack Murphy, but I think Frank Wildhorn will be an excellent composer for Death Note. The music in Jekyll and Hyde has a dark, eerie, and morbid quality to it, so if Death Note has a similar score then I think the play could stand a chance at being really good. (via Kotaku)

I do, however, have some concerns about the musical’s plot. How much of the story is the musical going to encompass? I personally have always felt that the storyline after L dies is very different in tone and content from the first half of the anime, where the focus is on L and Light mentally battling it out. I don’t think it would make sense to have the musical incorporate both plotlines. It would take a really skilled writer to somehow make both into a workable musical. My suggestion would be to make the first half of the anime into the musical and then if it does well then there can be a sequel, because two good Death Note musicals are better then one crappy one.

Another thing I am worried about is simply how this musical is going to be performed. Much of the anime features Light writing very dramatically or having very intense or creepy conversations with L or Ryuk. The anime and manga, while they both have their tense, action-packed moments, are more focused on psychological horror than on anything else. Even though I still think the plot and overall story would make an excellent musical, the writers and stage directors are going to have to watch that there are no moments during the show that drag or come off as dull.

Kira-death-note-21955373-599-337My only other worry is casting. The Death Note movie, while enjoyable, had one fatal flaw and that was Light’s actor. The actors who played L and Misa captured their characters so perfectly that it was if the animated characters simply stepped out of the screen and became real living people. The actor who played Light, however, gave a pretty lackluster performance by comparison. Light, with all his cruelty and cunning, needs to be the character that takes center stage and draws people in. If the actor who plays him can’t even live up to his co-stars, then it’s not going to do very well.

I am a huge fan of dark, morbid musicals, so I can’t wait to see a stage production of Death Note. Hopefully, it does well and isn’t a tragic failure. Until the official Death Note musical arrives, though, I will leave you with a fan version, which is a lot more lighthearted than I think this new musical is going to be.

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