Ikemen Musical – Midnight Cinderella A Review
Midnight Cinderella is an otome dating game by Cybird. While originally a Japanese only game, it is now also available in English. Though the Japanese one has more stories available and other features that the English one does not have yet.
The premise of the game, and the musical is simple. In the kingdom of Wysteria, if the royal family has no children to inherit they invite single young ladies to the castle and one is chosen to become the princess. She will learn all she needs to know to be a princess and she must choose a suitable husband to be her king.
While the game allows you to choose from various characters, the musical limits itself to just three of the most popular ones, Louis, Alyn and Xeno (Byron in the English) with a different route for each one. I only went to the musical once, for the Louis version, so I’m not sure how much changed between the Louis, Alyn and Xeno routes.
Cast (Names used in the English version of the game are in brackets)
Going into this show, I was unfamiliar with all of the actors so was unsure what to expect. Though I have played through multiple routes in the game and have my favourite characters.
Omi Shoichiro as Alan Crawford – Alan is the captain of the guard and the first character you meet in the game. He catches you trying to sneak into the castle after the gates have already closed. Because he’s the captain of the guard, even when he’s not your love interest, he often shows up in scenarios to help protect you as well as give you horseback riding lessons.
Shoichiro seemed to do well in his role as gallant knight and put upon brother. His solo song where he brandished his sword and danced around a bit was fun and he filled the stage well.
Ara Kazuharu as Louis Howard – I went to the show where Louis was selected by the Princess to be her prince so the show was slightly more Louis centric at parts. I think it’s hard to properly judge Kazuharu in the role because he played Louis in such a stoic and dour fashion. Louis is a Duke who doesn’t get along very much with the Princess at first and is somewhat mean to her while putting on a very bland face for the world to see. Unfortunately he is assigned as the princess’ dance instructor so no matter how he feels about her, he has to do his best to teach her how to dance.
In the few moments that he got to sing and dance with the princess his personality was able to shine through more. And as Louis is often described as a beautiful doll, I think Kazuharu matched that description well enough. He has the delicate features that you would expect of a handsome young duke described like that.
Takasaki Syungo as Xeno Gerald (Byron Wagner) – Full disclosure, Xeno, the King of the neighbouring kingdom of Stein, is my favourite character. So that meant that I had high expectations for him. Looking at Syungo’s initial promo shots I wasn’t sure what to think of him in this role of a young king with such a heavy burden upon his shoulders.
But I was pleasantly surprised to see him in action. As Xeno, Syungo moved with more confidence and spoke in a deep voice. And his singing voice blew me away. It reminded me of some of the actors of Tezuka in Tenimyu. You may not always expect such a low, strong and mature voice to come from some of the actors but then they start into a song and just amaze you. I was incredibly disappointed when Xeno’s solo song ended as I could have listened to it several times in a row.
I’m not sure if all of Syungo’s mannerisms were always matching my vision of Xeno but I can’t deny that I hope to see him in a musical again in the near future. I’m sure his singing and acting will only improve from here.
Shioguchi Ryohei as Jill (Giles) Christophe – In the same vein of Xeno, I will disclose that Jill is probably my least favourite character in the game, at least as a love interest. He is the Royal Chamberlain and it’s his job to choose the princess elect, tutor her, and see her select a suitable husband and get them both to the throne. So it’s understandable that his character is a bit more strict.
Despite my thoughts on the character, Ryohei did a great job bringing the maturity and feeling of responsibility the role of Jill needed. As the princess you would definitely feel like you could rely on Ryohei’s Jill to help you become the princess and to solve your problems.
Yuki Kazuya as Leo Crawford – In the game, I like Leo as the somewhat mischievous tutor to the princess though I’ve never really paid him much attention beyond that. But the musical certainly changed my view of him. Kazuya made for a handsome and charismatic Leo. His dancing skills were filled jazz style flourishes and combined with his singing I was instantly charmed. He also shamelessly flirts with the princess though also takes his role of her tutor very seriously. He exceeded my expectations and I hope to see him in more roles (especially musical ones) in the future.
Ishii Ryota as Yuli Norbert (Nico Meier) – Yuli is assigned as the butler to the princess and without spoiling too much, depending on the route you choose in the game he is not always that likeable. He’s also not the type of character I would choose in a romantic game. But like Kazuya, Ryota charmed me instantly and made Yuli one of my favourite characters in the musical. He is smiley and a joy to watch and while his singing and dancing may not have been as strong as some of the other actors he could still bring a smile to my face. I would be happy to see him in more roles where he plays a similar type of character because he was exceptionally good at it.
Kubo Sarina as Princess (Was given no official name for the musical as she represents you in the game and you can name her whatever you like.) – Sarina had the unenviable job of playing the love interest in an otome game based show. Though the audience seemed to warm up to her immediately and even in scenes that called for dubious otome game logic (If you’ve ever played an otome game or even read a bad romance novel you will understand these situations) you never really felt too angry with her and wanted her to do well. I think that speaks well to her charisma and acting ability to make us like her even when the Princess was being a little silly. I also liked how she reacted to all of the boys flirting with her and her developing feelings.
Her singing voices blended nicely with Louis in the duet they had and while I’m not sure how much changed from ending to the other, she seemed well up to the challenge to handle all three of her love interests for each show.
Ensemble – The ensemble worked hard playing various roles and singing full songs. They played the roles of castle staff, the aristocracy, townsfolk, villainous characters and one even played King Xeno’s loyal attendant (In the game his attendant is named Albert but I assume the musical wanted to limit named characters in order to focus the story on the main three and so they could use ‘Albert’ in various other scenes as part of the ensemble).
Stand out moments for the ensemble was the happy opening song and later on the song the angry townspeople sing when they’re worried about going to war and angry with the princess.
While some of the actors stood out more than others, I would be happy to see any of them again in future shows and hope they all do well.
This is not a Nelke or even Marvelous production that has a large budget to spend on the best materials and costuming. So some of the outfit decisions weren’t the most flattering. It was mostly in the boots. A lot of them have knee high style boots and several of the boys just looked like they were wearing poorly fitting rain boots. But ignoring that, the costumes were quite true to what the characters wear in the game, the costume changes from the ensemble were smooth and fit the scene and the princess had a cute little dress to wear. I do wish she had a bit more variation to her outfit though she did put on one fancy ball gown near the end.
As a sidenote, Jill gives her a princess tiara to wear at the start and goes to put it on her. In my show he first dropped it on her forehead before picking it back up and placing it at a somewhat awkward angle on her head. The poor Princess!
At over two hours long, a small talk event, a randomly selected pin, and omiokuri (waving goodbye to you as you leave) most days, you definitely got your money’s worth. If you bought the higher priced ‘Princess seats’ which were located in the front half of the theater you also got a randomly selected princess necklace which has a jewel in it representing one of the six main characters.
The set design was simple with large sliding boxes that represented the gates, stables and dividers. There was also an upper walkway area that wrapped around the stage in a u-shape. Props would be brought out when needed to show a change of setting. After seeing so many hi-tech shows that use projection mapping it was refreshing to see one that kept it simple. They used the space effectively and even ventured into the audience to use the walkway between the front and back half of the seats as a sub stage a few times.
The opening song set the tone well with all of the ensemble singing and the main characters coming on and having their moment to shine. It was a happy and fun welcome to the kingdom of Wysteria.
We are then, through the Princess, introduced to the castle and the inhabitants in it. We also meet the ill king (who is cleverly done as a silhouette) and start to see all of the work that goes into being a princess elect with lessons. We also have several small conflicts, from bureaucrats not thinking the princess is up to the challenge to bigger conflicts like the possibility of war.
We also see feelings start to develop between the princess and the three romantic choices. Which I thought was well done and cute with how flustered and affected she seemed to be by various moments with the men. And it also never felt like she was leading them all on or being cruel to them. Though I am still curious to see just how much changes from one show to the next.
The characters all get solo songs that either explain things about Wysteria, move the plot forward, or deal with feelings. I felt all of the songs were well done and catchy with my favourites being the happy opening song that felt like a Disneyland production, Leo’s tutor song, Byron’s wonderfully sung solo and the song the ensemble sang about the war.
At the end of the show, they also put on a mini-concert where you can use penlights and they come into the audience. I am now zero out of three for remembering to bring my penlight for shows that need them. Maybe I’ll remember next time.
The last song, had a part with the Princess on the stage singing out to the audience to her selected suitor and the chosen suitor (Louis this time) standing in the center of the middle walkway singing toward her, and rest of the company on the stage. This was admittedly slightly awkward for me, because I was in the row right before the walkway. So obviously, you want to look behind you and see what was happening. Except Louis was directly behind me so when I turned around it was just his crotch and he was oh so close. Feeling flustered, I turned back to just watch the stage and found I was also illuminated by the spotlight and the whole cast could undoubtedly notice me. It’s been a while since I felt so very much like a foreigner in the audience but in that moment I did feel a bit flustered. Whoops. Still fun and if I had remembered my penlight, I probably would have felt a bit more comfortable… maybe.
(I think this is a downside of shows using the center aisle so much. It does bring the back half of the theater closer to the action and gives the director an extra space to use to help show distance or that they’re travelling or somewhere new. But it does make it awkward to watch for those in the front half. Fans never seem to know how much they should turn to watch what’s happening. Midnight Cinderella was not so bad with it but I do notice it’s a trend that’s happening more and more in shows.)
Anyway, it was a great show, and I regret only going to the last show of the run. If I knew it was going to be that fun, I would have tried to see the Xeno version as he’s my favourite character and despite any initial misgivings he blew me away with his voice.
I do hope there will be a DVD. I know they filmed the three different routes but so far I’ve been unable to find anything about a DVD. I will certainly keep an eye out or some of the boys in this show and will definitely consider going to another otome style musical in the future. It was a lot more fun than I expected and the audience felt very warm and inviting, too.
Final Curtain Call
Because it was the final show, the cast gave special thank yous at the end of the curtain call. I would just like to point out that Leo’s actor, Kazuya, gave his speech and then spent rest of the time crying. All of us in the audience noticed but nobody on the stage seemed to since he was on the end of the line. Finally, when Kazuya let out a few louder sobs and we all chuckled at him, Alan’s actor Shoichiro finally noticed and asked what was going on. They then all saw Kazuya crying. Jill’s actor, Ryohei, quickly dashed off stage to try and find tissues but came back empty handed and apologized. But have no fear, Yuli, Ryota, true to his butler persona, had tissues secreted away inside his costume. He gave one first to the Princess, , who was also crying and then to Kazuya.
And for extra support, Ryohei, who was standing beside him, took Kazuya’s hand into his and held it for rest of the curtain call.
The audience was loving all the interactions. From how long it took everyone to notice, to Ryota giving first Sarina and then Kazuya a tissue, to Ryohei and Kazuya holding hands. It was definitely a cute way to end the show.
If I hadn’t already thought Kazuya did a fantastic job of Leo, his crying would have won me over. I’m a sucker for the boys that love what they do that much that they cry about it ending after just 11 shows.