A Jive Bomber's Christmas comes to Seattle


Memories–good, bad and sometimes sad–along with tears, laughter, 1940's music, song, dance and Christmas cheer are all wrapped into "A Jive Bomber's Christmas-," the holiday camp musical that, for the first time, is coming to Seattle this December.

In Seattle, the show will performed on Friday, December 3 at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 4 at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 5 at 1:30 p.m. at the Nippon Kan Theater, 628 South Washington Avenue in the International District.

"I've always wanted to bring this show to Seattle," said Mike Hagiwara, producer and cast member. "I'm happy that we have the opportunity to do that this year."

An added attraction to this year’s tour is a special pre-show performance by Nisei vocalist and Seattle native Sue Takimoto Okabe, who will make the trip up with the cast to perform for her hometown friends. Takimoto, born in Tacoma and raised in Seattle, sung at Minidoka when she was only 13 years old, and went on to perform at various camps via the USO tour.

"I’m looking forward to seeing my friends in Seattle," said Takimoto Okabe. "Jive Bomber’s is a really good show, and I hope the community people will come out to see it."

Written and directed by Dom and Saachiko Magwili with musical direction by Lisa Joe, "A Jive Bomber's Christmas" focuses on an earnest young woman who has made a promise to her brother to keep the people's spirits up while he is in Europe with the 442nd RCT.

A slick zoot-suiter, nicknamed the "Jive Bomber," suggests having a holiday dance and the story takes off from there. Amid riots, shootings, no-no/yes-yes and constant uncertainty, the people endure, and the show goes on.

For the past five years, "A Jive Bomber's Christmas" has delighted standing room only audiences throughout California.

"It's about survival and endurance," said Dom Magwili. "If you take away that veneer, you have a group of people who are not happy about where they are, particularly those who understand what's going on.

"As we go deeper into the drama, we begin to appreciate the humor more--the struggle to stick together, to be a family and to not let this situation take their hearts," said Magwili. "It is still a play that celebrates the human spirit, specifically of the JA's in these camps."

Back to reprise their original roles are all the cast members including Jason Fong as Arnold; Mike Hagiwara as Jackson/Glenn; Keiko Kashiwagi as Kei/Hanna; Darrell Kunitomi as Aki/Hideo; and Janice Terukina as Mitzi/Alice. Lisa Joe is the featured pianist.

For many Nisei, the music of "Jive Bomber's" is what brings them back year after year. Popular songs from the 40's will be featured again this year. Lisa Joe, musical director of the show and daughter Sue Takimoto Okabe, says it's the music they remember, because within the music, there are so many memories.

"Most of the music of the big band era seems to remind them of the good times in camp, and in talking to my mom, I think music was a big part of their social events--like dances and listening," said Joe.

In many ways, "A Jive Bomber's Christmas" has become an annual tribute to the Nisei, according to cast members.

"They are the one's who sacrificed for all of us," said cast member Keiko Kashiwagi. "This show is our way of honoring them, of saying 'Thank You' for everything."

For tickets and information, call Elaine Shoji Ishihara at 206/223-9578.

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