Translated from the 4/26/2009 Sanspo article online at: http://www.sanspo.com/geino/news/090426/gne0904262202000-n1.htm
Star Troupe: Aran Kei Sayonara "I Have No Regrets From My Takarazuka Life!"
On the 26th, at the last day for Takarazuka Star Troupe's show in the Tokyo Theater, top star Aran Kei, who had previously announced her retirement, brought an end to her 19-year Takarazuka life. Her partner Toono Asuka retired at the same time.
On this day, continuing after the performance of "My Dear New Orleans: Ai Suru Wa ga Machi/A Bientot" the retiring performers held a special Sayonara Show in which they performed well-remembered songs.
During the retiree speeches, Aran Kei's lips faltered over and over as she was overwhelmed by tears. On the first day of the Tokyo performance, she had said, "I want to welcome the last day with a sense of achievement." But when expressing her true feelings now, she said, "I want to say that I'm full of a sense of achievement. But instead I'm full of sorrow." However, at the end she declared, "I have no regrets from my Takarazuka life!"
Later, at a press conference at the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater (Hibiya, Tokyo), she revealed her thoughts about continuing in entertainment after retirement, saying, "Just as I have in the past, I want to be a stage performer who expresses dreams and emotions to everyone, as a singer, as an actor."
After that, in front of the theater, where about 8000 fans were crowded, she parted from the soil of so many memories, walking before the crowd in the Sayonara Parade.
Aran Kei debuted in Moon Troupe's 1991 production of "Rose of Versailles." In the year 2000, she transferred from Snow Troupe to Star Troupe. In "Song for Kingdoms" (2003), she sang the heroine Aida in soprano, demonstrating her strength in ably performing both sides. In 2006, she became top star of Star Troupe.
In addition to the top combi of Aran and Toono, other retirees were Mahiro Shun, Kazuki Shin, Kazu Ryouka, Hoshikaze Erena, Suzuno Katsuki, Tatsuki You, Shiran Masumi, and Asamine Hikari.
On stage, the retirees are handed flowers by their classamates. Aran received hers from former Flower Troupe top star Haruno Sumire, Asamine Hikari from former Star troupe musumeyaku top star Hoshina Yuri, Shiran from former Moon Troupe musumeyaku top Dan Rei, and so on.
The next Star Troupe top stars will be promoted from within the troupe: otokoyaku Yuzuki Reon and musumeyaku Yumesaki Nene.
Below are Aran Kei's words from her retirement speech.
"This day has come at last. Right now, within my heart, I'm full of feelings of accomplishment, of completion, and of satisfaction... that's what I want to say, but, of course, instead I feel nothing but sadness. It's true joy, being able to graduate while wrapped up like this in the love of my family, the love of my friends, the love of the staff, and the love of the audience.
"In these nineteen years, so many things have happened. However, in order to meet this joyful moment, I've had to feel completely how they have passed.
"Today, the first chapter of my dream is over. But tomorrow the curtain will open on chapter two. Within the dream of chapter two, I'm looking forward to meeting again with all of you.
"Thank you so much for the love you've given to Takarazuka Revue's Otokoyaku Aran Kei all this long time. Truly, thank you so much. I have no regrets from my Takarazuka life.
"Truly, thank you so very much."
Aran Kei's retirement press conference question and answers are below.
Aran Kei: Today, I am truly happy, because I'm able to complete my nineteen year Takarazuka life with a feeling of satisfaction. From here on, I turn towards chapter two of my dream. Starting tomorrow - no, starting right now - I'm going to do my best, so please support me.
---- To you, Takarazuka is..?
Aran: Ye-ah. Youth. I've walked together with friends who shared the same life. That time is barely over, but, as I follow those steps, I've gone just a ways ahead, and if I turn my head to look back, it seems that time was youth.
---- When you received your flowers from your classmate, former Flower Troupe top star Haruno Sumire, what did she whisper that made you laugh?
Aran: Before we went on-stage, we met in the wing, and I asked her to, "Please do a turn when you come out." She wouldn't and said, "I can't do it for a scene like this!" There was that, and she told me, "Be valiant till the end!"
---- Otokoyaku Aran Kei in one word
Aran: Gokurosama ["Grateful for your trouble."]
--- The future Aran Kei in one word
Aran: Kitai shiteru yo. ["I'm in anticipation!"]
--- Your mental state up till the Tokyo show's last performance?
Aran: Because after the Takarazuka Grand Theater performance, it seemed as if it had already ended once, at first in Tokyo it felt like an omake [bonus/freebie] show. But, once we had passed about the middle of the run, for some reason a new desolation welled up in me, that I was parting from Takarazuka, and the feeling began anew, so that when I thought of that each day, I couldn't help but feel sad. Takarazuka is sustained by the fans. It's because the fans are here that we're able to try so hard. Because the fans are all so very important, when I would see them in the audience, wiping away their tears with handkerchiefs, I would think, "I'm sorry, I went and quit on you ..." and things like that. But I also have been thinking that I wanted everyone to see me out with a sense of satisfaction for all that I've done."
----Did you sleep well last night?
Aran: I was able to sleep.
--- This morning, what did you think of when you woke up?
Aran: "Your face is really swollen, huh?"
--- [Was there] something you held onto during the performance?
Aran: There was. Everyone in the troupe was behind me, and when I turned my head, even though no one said a word, the expressions on their faces as they looked at me made me feel so fortunate. My Takarazuka life has been long, and I'm the last of the 77th class, so I've stood on stage and seen off many, many people. And so, I also understand well the feelings of those standing beside us. I'm grateful for receiving such a happy graduation.
----During the Sayonara Show, the audience waved star-shaped penlights...
Aran: They were something, weren't they? I felt deeply loved.
---- And tonight?
Aran: I want to... crash.
---- Concerning the Takarazuka Grand Theater Sayonara Parade?
Aran: It was raining a bit for the Grand Theater Parade. I'm an unbelievable Hareonna [Sunny-weather woman]. And yet, it rained; it was very strange. That had never happened in my "legend." I figured it had to be the fan's namida-ame ("rain of tears"). When I woke up this morning and it was clear weather, I felt again that I was definitely a Hareonna.
--- Concerning post-retirement, you spoke of chapter two of your dream.
Aran: I've found my objective, but, you know, just like in chapter one, I want to be a stage performer who expresses dreams and emotions to everyone, as a singer, as an actor.
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