Thursday, 22 July 2021

COMING HOME: Yukina Hasebe, soon to open in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

The Phantom of the Opera is a musical classic, one of the longest-running musicals in the world it's a huge tourist attraction and has been seen by millions. With numerous productions around the world, the show is setting up to return to the West End at Her Majesty's Theatre, reopening from the 27th July 2021. After a 16 month absence from London, fans of the show and musical theatre nuts are eagerly awaiting its return and its opening of the exciting new cast, led by Lucy St Louis who is making history as the first black actress to play Christine. 

Yukina Hasebe is no stranger to the show, having previously appeared in the short-lived UK touring production of the show (that was closed down due to the pandemic), as well as in the German production. She returns to the show in its original home in the West End. Chatting to her she is obviously excited to not only be making her West End debut but to be returning to this wonderful show, “I can’t wait for the first show and to hear the overture! It’s epic and you can feel the magic in the air! I’ve missed feeling the lights on my face and moving through a different world on stage, it is a very special feeling.” 

As well as her history with Phantom of the Opera, she has performed as a ballet dancer across the world, appeared in Cabaret, LA Cage Aux Folles and Me and My Girl in Germany, West Side Story in Italy and before appearing in the Phantom tour she could be seen in the International touring production of Miss Saigon. 

Yukina comes from a very artistic family, telling us that she basically grew up in an Opera house and adopted it as her second home through her childhood. The stories she has are really beautiful and you can clearly tell theatre has been a huge part of her life for such a long time; “As kids, we were always playing hide and seek and were trying to find new rooms and pathways inside the Opera House. For as long as I can remember I was always going in and out of an Opera House, so I’ve really missed that!” 

Talking to Yukina about how she’s been doing over the pandemic, she tells us how she’s used the time for her family and her loved ones. She visited her home in Austria to spend time with her family as well as spending some quality time with her FiancĂ©. They met whilst she was touring with Miss Saigon: “most of our relationship I was travelling for work so it was wonderful to have this time together.” She has also invested some time into her studies, telling us she is a long-distance student with a university in Hamburg so it's clear she’s been keeping herself busy! 

Asking Yukina what she’s learnt about herself during this time she tells us how it really put things into perspective for her. “I feel more grounded. This past year made me slow down and has given me time to stop and appreciate the little things.” We couldn’t agree more, if the past 16 months has taught us anything it's to really appreciate everything we have. 

Whilst reflecting on the pandemic, we asked her what advice she would give to people. “Don’t rush but don’t wait”, and we couldn’t have put it a better way. Ease yourself back into ‘normal’ life but also, if this time has taught us anything, there's no time like to present to achieve what you want to achieve. “Be kind to yourself and others. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic so try to be patient and understanding with one another.” In such a short amount of words, we think Yukina has summed it up pretty well. Advice I think we should all remind ourselves to take! 

Chatting to her about the industry and the changes we have to make, she makes an excellent point, “There are many things that are going in the right direction but still there is a lot that needs to be done. I would wish for more diversity not only on stage but in all parts of the industry!” And this couldn’t be more true, we mustn’t just look at the diversity in casts but also at the creative teams behind the show, it goes way beyond the headshots we see in a program. 

The Phantom of the Opera opens later this month on the 27th July 2021, we cannot wait to welcome this show back to where it belongs. Yukina and the rest of the company are sure to be wonderful and we can’t wait to make a trip back to see the Phantom! 

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