2021 / Theatre company Grateful Crane Ensemble has brought memories of Japanese American community to live performances: 20th anniversary event is presented in virtual stage through December

Grateful Crane Ensemble’s 20th Anniversary Stage on video / Cast performs jingle for Yamasa Kamaboko, one of long time sponsors for Grateful Crane. From left: Darrell Kunitomi, Haruye Ioka, Kurt Kuniyoshi, Helen Ota, Jason Fong, Keiko Kawashima.

The Grateful Crane Ensemble, a non-profit theatre company based in Los Angeles, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with the premiere of a fun and entertaining virtual video featuring a look-back at the shows, music and memories the group has presented over the past 20 years.

Since 2001, the mission of the Grateful Crane has been to honor and thank our Issei and Nisei by telling their stories and singing their favorite songs,” said Soji Kashiwagi, Executive Director and founding member of Grateful Crane. “With this video, we share our history, and thank our longtime supporters with special “jingles” written and performed just for them.”

Featuring long-time cast members Darrell Kunitomi, Jason Fong, Haruye Ioka, Kurt Kuniyoshi, Keiko Kawashima and Helen Ota, the humorous jingles honor nine long-time Grateful Crane sponsors including Linda Aratani/Aratani Foundation, Ernie Doizaki, American Fish/Kansas Marine, the Fred and Michi Dohzen Family, Jerry Fukui/Fukui Mortuary, Frank and Betty Hiji/Hiji Brothers, Hiroshi and Sadako Kashiwagi, Gary Kawaguchi/Upper Crust Enterprises, Frank and Sachi Kawana/Yamasa Enterprises and George, Ruri, Lisa and Nathan Sugimoto/KGS Electronics.

Filmed, directed and edited by videographer Luke Uyeda, the hour-long video also includes songs from popular shows such as “The Camp Dance: The Music & The Memories,” and “Nihonmachi: The Place to Be,” interviews with cast members, a song from the Yonsei singing group, The Grateful 4, and a music video documenting Grateful Crane’s three goodwill tours to Tohoku, Japan in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Since March 2020, Grateful Crane and performing groups across the country have been shut down from live performances due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Like other groups, Grateful Crane has pivoted to virtual videos and productions, and this anniversary video is one of numerous virtual works the group has produced over the past 20 months.

“One of the things we say in the video is how much we miss performing live for the community,” said Kashiwagi. “We know that virtual videos are not the same as live performances, but we hope this video will bring some laughter and joy during these difficult times.”

To view the video on Vimeo, go to this link and type in the password for access: https://vimeo.com/gratefulcrane/20thanniversary.
Password: gratefulcrane20th

The video is available for viewing through the end of December, 2021.