Blackbird Theater presents rarely produced Pacific Overtures in Shamblin Theatre

By Janel Shoun on 1/27/2012



Lipscomb University’s resident theater company, Blackbird Theater, will stage the rarely-produced Pacific Overtures by Stephen Sondheim, Feb. 2-18, at the Shamblin Theatre on Lipscomb’s campus.

Stephen Sondheim, often called the modern master of musical theater, is renowned for Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and Company, but Pacific Overtures, one of his most compelling works, is rarely produced.

In 19th century Japan, an unlikely friendship is forged between the samurai Kayama and the Americanized fisherman Manjiro in the wake of a U.S. naval mission to secure trade with the reclusive nation. When the shogun reluctantly agrees to America’s demands, Kayama and Manjiro – and all of Japanese society – must face the wave of Westernization that follows.

This innovative show blends the American musical form with Kabuki theater stylings to present the dramatic first contact between America and Japan – through the eyes of the Japanese.

The 1976 original Broadway production, directed by Hal Prince, was nominated for ten Tony Awards, winning for Best Costume Design and Best Scenic Design.

Blackbird performance dates are Feb. 2-4, 9-11 and 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $20 for Thursday evening performances and $25 for Friday and Saturday evening performances. Tickets can be purchased by searching “Pacific Overtures” on All tickets are general admission.

Blackbird’s production is the kickoff event for Nashville’s Sakura Season, the Japanese culture and heritage celebration that concludes with the Cherry Blossom Festival. Blackbird’s production takes place just weeks before Nashville’s popular Cherry Blossom Festival (March 24), and shortly before the one-year anniversary of the devastating tsunami of March 11.

It is being presented in partnership with the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville, and with the support of the Japan-America Society of Tennessee and the Japan Foundation, among others. It is the only production of Pacific Overtures currently slated anywhere in 2012.

For more information on Pacfic Overtures and the Blackbird Theater go to their website,


Sponsors for Pacific Overtures:

Blackbird Theater presents Pacific Overtures in partnership with the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville, and with the support of:

  • Japan-America Society of Tennessee
  • HCA/TriStar, the Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund
  • The Metro Nashville Arts Commission
  • The Tennessee Arts Commission
  • The Japan Foundation, New York.

Blackbird is the resident theater company at Lipscomb University, working in partnership with its Department of Theatre, led by Mike Fernandez, chair, and David Hardy, technical director.