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53 Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU

Pacific Overtures

Closed February 24, 2024

Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical about an unwelcome expedition reminds us of the composer's genius

Washington Post

Why See Pacific Overtures?

MusicalsTony WinnersDrama Desk WinnersOlivier WinnersTrue-life Historical

east and west

In a stunning co-production between Japan's Umeda Arts Theatre and the Menier Chocolate Factory, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's entertaining historical musical takes us across the ocean to feudal Japan, where early relations with the West prove to be anything but smooth. Centering on the story of a fisherman and a lowly samurai, the Tony and Olivier award winning work imagines American influences on the country from a Japanese perspective, taking stunning cues from traditional Kabuki theatre.


We follow Commodore Matthew Perry on his sailing trip to Japan in 1853 on a U.S. mission to open up trade relations at any cost. However the rescue of a drowning Japanese fisherman throws a spanner in the works when he is accused of consorting with the enemy. Meanwhile, a junior samurai is charged with keeping the foreigners out; everything starts to unravel the relative peace of thousands of years of custom. The original Broadway run won two Tony Awards, whilst the 2003 West End revival picked up three Oliviers.

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Opening night: 25 November 2023

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