Mori returns to ‘Wanderer’s’ role

Japanese theater legend gets Tokyo reprise

TOKYO — Acting legend Mitsuko Mori, 87, will take to the boards once again in her signature role, Fumiko Hayashi, in “A Wanderer’s Notebook” (“Horoki”), a play based on the writer’s life that bowed in 1961 with Mori in the lead.

Skedded to run for nearly 100 perfs from Jan. 7 to March 30 at Theater Creation in Tokyo’s Hibiya entertainment district, the play has become Mori’s most famous legit vehicle in an eight-decade career.

She has racked up 1,858 perfs in revivals, never ceding the role to another actress.

In between, she has appeared in countless TV dramas, as well as in the occasional pic.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Mori said that she will no longer perform a forward somersault on stage — Hayashi’s trademark reaction to good news. Mori explained that the producers, worried about injuries to their star, had persuaded her to give it up.

“I’m sad and would like to apologize, but I respect their wish that (the play) have as long a run as possible,” she said.

“A Wanderer’s Notebook” was made into a pic in 1962, helmed by Mikio Naruse and starring Hideko Takamine in the Hayashi role.

Hayashi survived poverty and an abusive relationship with a TB-afflicted writer to find literary success.

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