I didn't forget either of them. Time just conspired against us. But let me make good that deficiency with the first of the two right here - Death Note Rem actress Megumi Hamada!
Set to bring a death goddess to life, our shinigami actress was born in the human world on August 2nd 1972. She hails from Kitakyushu, on the Fukuoka Perfecture, in Japan.
Megumi Hamada attended Kyushu International University High School. After graduation, she worked for a time in a local book-store, before saving up enough funds to move to Tokyo. There she enrolled in the Performing Arts Academy, based in the capital's Toshima district, determined to realize her dream of becoming an actress. Just like her idol Yuko Doi.
That seems to be working out well.
Megumi Hamada was the first actress to play Elphaba in Japan. She took that high-profile leading role - heading the original Tokyo cast of Wicked - back in 2007. (Nevertheless, she'll be the first actress in the world to play Rem!)
Evidently a good place to begin, if we want to see our new shinigami actress in action. Can you envisage how she will perform as Rem from this? It's an opening cast trailer for Wicked starring Megumi as Elphaba. For the culturally inept, she's the green one.
Megumi brought Elphaba to life for Japanese theatrical audiences from 17 June, 2007 – 6 September, 2009.
Whereupon she handed over to Masae Ebata, who's carried it around the country ever since.
However, as the originating Elphaba, Megumi was the one recorded for the official album release from the show: Wicked: Gekidan Shiki Version (Japanese Cast Album).
Here she is again, in another YouTube clip, performing one of Wicked's most famous songs, Defying Gravity.
Despite the fact that most commentaries focus upon Wicked, Megumi Hamada has been in many other musicals in Japan.
More often than not, she's cast as the female lead.
Roles like Christine (pictured left) in Love Never Dies - Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical sequel to The Phantom of the Opera - which opened in March 2014, at the Nissay Theatre in Tokyo.
We get to see Megumi Hamada in white here, a colour that she will most certainly be rocking whilst playing Death Note's pale shinigami Rem!
Anyone else get the feeling that, if Light Yagami had been female, then Megumi Hamada would be Kira?
As it is, Fuka Yuduki must be quite wide-eyed at the fact that she's landed Misa Amane, when Megumi is also on board as a Death Note Musical original cast member!
Shiki Theatre Company: Megumi Hamada - Four Seasons Lead Actress in Western Musicals
It's hardly a coincidence that the actress poised to play Rem has already acted in a plethora of shows well known in the West.
From 1995-2010, Megumi Hamada was contracted to the Shiki Theatre Company, and that's what they do. In house Shiki writers take musicals and plays that are huge in the West, then adapt them to suit Japanese audiences.
Generally they'll retain the same names as the shows that inspired them, rendered in English - or whichever other language the play was originally penned - rather than also translating all titles into Japanese.
Whether for this reason, or as an in-crowd thing, the company is often referenced as the Four Seasons by theatrical critics, reviewers and fans alike. Especially Western ones. Four Seasons being a literal translation of Shiki into English. Then again, this might not even be a thing. It might just be a glitch in all the translation programs that I'm using to research this biography!
- Beauty and the Beast (Belle);
- Cats (Jellylorum);
- Crazy for You (Polly Baker);
- The Lion King (Nala);
- Exotic Hill (RiHanaRen);
- Aspects of Love (Giulietta Trapani);
- Aida (Aida - one scrambled translation implies that Megumi performed this part over 1000 times during its three year run; but another reading suggests that the Aida role itself has been subject to the 1000 performances by many different actresses, spanning decades, world-wide);
- Rokumeikan (Akiko Daitokuji);
- Black Comedy (Carol Meruketto);
- Mamma Mia (first the mother, then Donna).
Megumi Hamada Meets Frank Wildhorn
It was around now that Megumi made the contact which has brought her into our Death Note orbit.
Transferring to Shiki Theatre Company's Taidan group, she was cast as Bonnie in Bonnie & Clyde - a show written by Frank Wildhorn, the man now tasked with creating music for Death Note the Musical. It seems that the Broadway composer was quite taken with his Japanese star actress, because he invited her to 'do a CD together'.
The result was Megumi Hamada's 2012 album Attitude, wherein her tracks were all composed by Frank Wildhorn.
There also seems to be a second album floating about called Wildhorn Melodies, which again features Megumi Hamada singing Frank Wildhorn's tunes.
He 'fell in love with her voice'. Very much in love apparently, because she's now Rem.
Moreover, Shiki Theatre Company have repeatedly staged plays with music by Frank Wildhorn, during the three years since Bonnie and Clyde. Megumi Hamada is usually the actress leading those shows, thus performing his songs.
It makes me wonder if her role in the musical Death Note occurred at the request of its composer. Not to mention the fact that, if he knows her so well, then Rem's music is probably being written with Megumi in mind.
Plus her Japanese Wiki page lists the Death Note Musical as being staged BY Shiki, though this is the first time I've heard the company mentioned in connection with the project.
If that is correct, then may we speculate that it was the prospect of working with Megumi Hamada again which brought Frank Wildhorn on board in the first place. There definitely appears to be a pattern of collaboration going on here! In which case, we can all fully embrace Megumi in the role of Rem, as that casting is what made Death Note the Musical a reality.
- Jekyll & Hyde (Lucy)
- Wonderland (Mad Hatter)
- Cyrano (Roxanne)
- A Tale of Two Cities (Madame Dofaruju)
- The Count of Monte Cristo (Louisa)
- Love Never Dies (Christine Daae)
- Carmen (Carmen)
- Death Note (Rem)
- Sunset Boulevard (Norma Desmond)
Rem Actress Megumi Hamada Live in Concert
Megumi Hamada's Cozy DVD Tracks
Over to you.