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Tanya Agarwal, Stage One investment recipient, brings hit musical Tokyo Rose to London

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 8 September 2021, Last Updated 10 September 2021

This month will see the highly anticipated hit musical Tokyo Rose open at London’s Southwark Playhouse.

The musical was produced by Tanya Agarwal who recently secured a Stage One small scale commercial investment to help support the new production. Stage One is a charity that supports commercial theatre producers across the UK and The Society of London Theatre, a not-for-profit organisation that runs Official London Theatre, has been one of their integral supporters since it began over 40 years ago. 

Before joining the Stage One family, Tanya worked in a variety of different roles including Front Of House Duty Manager, Production Assistant as well as freelancing in fringe shows both nationally and internationally. Her journey into Stage One started with Bridge The Gap, a programme which takes 10 emerging producers on a year-long development programme each year. From here, Tanya was awarded a Stage One bursary to support her personal development as a producer and today, Stage One are proud to support her with investment in Tokyo Rose as it opens in London.

About the investment, Tanya said: “I am hugely grateful for support that Stage One have given me over the years, and especially over the unique challenges presented by the pandemic world in the last 18 months. Without their support, I would not have been able to even think about putting on this musical, and taking it on a UK tour no less! The whole team are immensely excited to be working on live shows again, and we can’t wait to see what audiences think!”

The energetic and electrifying new musical follows the story of Iva Toguri d’Aquino who was charged with treason after she took part in English-language broadcasts to Allied soldiers in the South Pacific during World War II. As one of America’s most controversial trials, Tokyo Rose examines a real-life story of scaremongering and scapegoating.

Iva is a figure that has been referenced across popular culture over time, from Joni Mitchell to The Golden Girls, Tokyo Rose provides a female-centric view of a male dominated period of history. Now in a new two-act full length format, this thought-provoking production is a timely examination of xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment, unfortunately still relevant today. This production celebrates a community whose point of view is not only overlooked in history, but also underrepresented on stage and screen.

Co-writer Maryhee Yoon says: “The most important part of Tokyo Rose is that Iva Toguri D’Aquino lived. She was here. I hope to tell Iva’s story in a way that she would have wanted, honouring her heartbreaks, her fight, her family, and her joys to honour our collective fight and radical joy. Just like Iva, our community is here and it is thriving. I hope that Tokyo Rose can serve as a love letter to this vibrant community.”

Co-writer Cara Baldwin comments: “The cast and creative team have gone on such an incredible journey together, shining a light on a side of history some would rather forget. While Iva Toguri survived a tidal wave of turmoil, the greatest thing we’ve learnt is that Iva’s life is not one to lament, but celebrate.”

Winner of The Edinburgh Untapped Award & the Les Enfants Terribles Stepladder Award, this electrifying new musical tells the true story of how one strong, American-born woman battled through a journey of self acceptance, only to return home to a dangerously divided nation.

Tokyo Rose will be playing at the Southwark Playhouse from 23 September – 16 October. Book your tickets to see this epic show, now and if you’d like to find out more about it, tune in to our Theatre Chat Live on 21 September where we will be joined by Tanya herself.


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Southwark Playhouse Tanya Agarwal Tokyo Rose

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