The practical bird
having no tree of its own
Pacific Overtures is a musical
with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
and book by John Weidman, with additional material from Hugh Wheeler. It tells the story of Japanese westernisation through the lives of two friends, Kayama and Manjiro. The play is told through a mix between Broadway and Kabuki theatre.
The play begins with the reciter commenting on Japan's peaceful and unchanging way of life. However, President Fillmore wishes to trade with the Japanese, and thus sends warships to the shores of Okinawa. The Americans arrive, give generous donations and leave. This paves the road to more and more trade with foreign powers, resulting in Japan becoming more and more western. Eventually, the Emperor Meiji decides to seize control and officially modernise Japan.
The show opened to mixed reviews and is very
rarely performed, but is considered one of Sondheim's most underrated works.
Examples of tropes appearing in Pacific Overtures: