When I first heard about Tea, With Music, I assumed it would be about traditional Japanese tea culture. I am not completely sure why I thought that, but perhaps my love of the Japanese tea ceremony was to blame. Needless to say, I was in for a big surprise.
Tea, With Music centers on a group of five Japanese war brides living in Kansas right after World War II. When one commits suicide, the four remaining come together to help pack up her house and remember her over tea, while sorting through their own troubles as Japanese immigrants living in America.
It was interesting to watch these women progress from living in war-torn Japan, to meeting — and ultimately wedding — naive military joes, to boarding U.S. Navy ships, to living in small town Kansas. What was more interesting was the fact that the five stars not only played themselves, but their daughters and their husbands as well.
But let’s face it — I came for the tea, and tea was what I wanted. Tea leads to storytelling and conversations, so I was little frustrated that I didn’t hear more dialogue. After a moment of tea drinking at the table, the actors were whisked away into song and dance instead of a warm cup of matcha.
The music was entertaining, but I found the songs more amusing than intellectually stimulating. Ultimately, the music distracted from the real heart of the play, which could have benefited from a more seamless momentum.
Though tea was literally center stage the entire time, I would hardly call it the sixth star of the play. It was more of a backdrop than anything, despite the opening and closing song being about sharing tea.
Overall, it was enjoyable, but again, I found it hard to focus on the story when it was trying so hard to focus on the song and dance. And for a tea play with “tea” in its title, I was expecting a little more tea!