Theater Director Keita Asari Dies

Theater director Keita Asari dies

Japanese theater director Keita Asari has died. He was 85.

He died of malignant lymphoma at a hospital in Tokyo last Friday.

Asari was born in Tokyo in 1933. He founded the Shiki Theatre Company in 1953 and created numerous plays while studying at Keio University.

Asari went on to create Japanese-language versions of popular overseas musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats and The Lion King.

He also devised unique ways to train actors, such as a vocalization method to help articulate lines. The Shiki acting troupe became the largest in Japan, with its own theaters nationwide.

Asari was devoted to exchanges with other Asian countries, and used actors and actresses from China and South Korea. In 2006, he put on a performance of The Lion King in Seoul.

Asari was also engaged in a wide range of other fields. In 1998, he produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the Nagano Winter Olympics.

The company says he became ill last September and had since been hospitalized.