Death Note: The Musical is a stage production based on the Death Note manga series. The music was composed by Frank Wildhorn, with lyrics by Jack Murphy, and script by Ivan Menchell.
The musical was originally written in English and translated into Japanese and Korean for their respective productions performed in 2015. A second Korean production ran in January 2017, and a second Japanese production is planned for September 2017.
In 2014, there was an English-language workshop in New York for the musical, and in early 2015, some of the English versions of the songs were released online. In January 2017, script-writer Ivan Menchell said on Twitter that an English-language production was "coming soon!"
Development and pre-productionEdit
HoriPro is the Japanese production company behind the musical, who were previously part of the Death Note live-action films. Their production team notably included Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn, who composed the music; Jack Murphy, who wrote the lyrics; and Ivan Menchell, who wrote the script. Wildhorn was unfamiliar with Death Note when HoriPro approached him, and he took on the project when his son told him to do it because "it would be the coolest thing [he'd] ever done." The musical was written in English and later translated into Japanese and Korean.
On April 14 2014, a closed English-language workshop was held in New York as a presentation for the Japanese and Korean producers.
Beginning in January 2015, some of the English-language demo songs were released online, likely to generate buzz leading up to the Tokyo production opening. In total, eight songs were released: Playing His Game, They're Only Human, When Love Comes, I'll Only Love You More, Kira, Stalemate, Honor Bound, and Where is the Justice. The songs were recorded by a New York demo cast different from the workshop cast, with the exception of Adrienne Warren who played Misa for both.
In class, high school student Light Yagami expresses his frustration with the justice system. Meanwhile, in the Shinigami realm, Ryuk is telling Rem how bored he is, and he drops his Death Note into the human world. Light finds the Death Note and jokingly writes the name of a criminal, singing to the Death Note to grant him the power of justice. When the criminal dies, Light is initially horrified but resolves to use the Death Note for justice. As criminals continue to die, Soichiro Yagami hears about the deaths and the investigation begins. He decides they'll need to bring on L.
Ryuk meets up with Light. Light's sister Sayu Yagami asks Light to come to a Misa Amane concert with her, and the two of them plus Ryuk go. Misa begins her concert by thanking her beloved hero Kira. After the concert, Sayu says she didn't like that part and says Kira should be more like her brother.
Back home, Light sees a broadcast from Lind L. Tailor who challenges Kira. Light kills him with the Death Note, but L reveals that he's gained valuable information about Kira. Later, Soichiro and Light talk about what L did, and Soichiro feels that L went too far by sacrificing a man's life.
The arrival of the FBI agents is broadcast on television, and Light's able to find information on one online. He confronts FBI agent Haley Belle at Shinjuku Station. As written in the Death Note, Belle writes the names of the other FBI agents and commits suicide by jumping in front of a train. Later, the Task Force members are given the option to resign, and one does so.
Light and ensemble begin singing "Where is the Justice reprise," in which it becomes clear that the public believes Kira is justice. L expresses his disagreement, proclaiming that Kira is just a "crazy mass-murderer" and that he himself is justice instead. The song and Act 1 end with Misa running out onto the stage, looking behind her as though she had been chased, and finding another Death Note.
There is an intermission between acts 1 and 2.
Act 2 begins just as Act 1 left off, with a shorter version of "Where is the Justice reprise," showing Misa running out on the stage and finding the Death Note. Rem appears to her and tells her how she got the Death Note, and Misa convinces Rem to help her find Kira. With some reluctance, Rem tells her about the Shinigami Eyes, which could help. Misa insists on the trade.
There's unrest with the Task Force regarding working with L, so L meets with them in person. He reveals that he strongly suspects Soichiro's son Light, and he's enrolling in Todai to investigate him further.
L meets Light as they are both freshmen representatives for Todai. L, going by the alias Hideki Ryuga, tells Light that he's actually L. Meanwhile, Misa is planning on a discreet way to meet Kira. She composes a song with a secret message to Kira. Misa also gives videos to the media, as a second Kira, with another part of the message to Kira. Sayu shares Misa's new song with Light, so he hears the message.
Light and Misa meet up and touch each others' notebooks. Misa suggests they go out, and Light agrees but on the condition that she give him the name of the man who's now following him. Although she doesn't want the man to die because he's not a criminal, she gives Light his name: Kanzo Mogi. Light quickly leaves, which Misa is upset about. Rem is also upset about how things went between Misa and Light. Ryuk reminds her not to break the rule about helping humans.
With the Task Force, L comments again on Light being Kira. Soichiro grows frustrated and excuses everyone so it's just him and L. Weeks of surveillance should have cleared Light and the rest of his family, but L tells him that Mogi was following Light, and Mogi is now dead after jumping in front of a bus. Light didn't know Mogi's name, but L suspects that Light has met with the second Kira. Soichiro begins to accept that his son could be Kira.
L and Light have a tennis match. After the match, Misa arrives, and Light introduces her to L as his girlfriend. Misa realizes that L's name doesn't match the name she can see, but Ryuk reminds her that she shouldn't know that and she tries to act casual. L recognizes her from the cover of Eighteen magazine which draws attention from other students, and Misa runs off as she's chased by a mob of fans. Light tries to call Misa to get L's name, but L has taken her phone. Light takes the phone back, and L tells him that Misa has been arrested. They've already done forensic tests on the videos, and fibers match items in her apartment, so L has evidence that she's the second Kira.
Misa is held in confinement, restrained and blindfolded. L questions her about Kira, among other things. Soichiro feels that the way Misa is being treated is unforgivable. Misa asks Rem to kill her. As an alternative to dying, Rem tells Misa that she can forfeit ownership of the Death Note and lose her memories instead. This pains both Misa and Rem, but Misa accepts. Rem takes her memories and Misa passes out, leaving Rem to lament that Misa has forgotten her as well.
Rem goes to Light afterward. Light's figured out that there's no way L will ever let Misa go because she knows his name. Rem's figured out that Light's counting on Rem saving Misa for him, and to do that she has to give L's name to Light, and die herself. Rem agrees to write L's name down with instructions just as Light tells her, in order for Misa to be happy with Light.
As written, L goes to Daikoku Wharf with a gun and confronts Light. Light shows L the Death Note and lets him touch it so he can see Ryuk. Light starts celebrating his victory, and L shoots him in the leg. But this was all written because Light needs to make it look convincing that L himself is Kira. Light limps over to L, and he guides the gun in L's hand to point at L's own head, and L pulls the trigger and dies. With L and Rem dead, and Misa without her memories, Light's certain that he's won.
But Ryuk's become bored. He picks up the Death Note and bites his finger to draw blood and begins to write Light's name. Light begs him not to and fires the gun at him, but this has no effect. Before he dies, Light sings a few more lines from the Death Note song, before succumbing to his heart attack and dying. Ryuk pulls an apple out of Light's jacket and takes a bite.
The final song has Soichiro and Sayu mourning Light. Misa walks out alone on the upper stage and sand runs from her fingers as a symbol of Rem's remains and of time running out.
The music was composed by Frank Wildhorn with lyrics by Jack Murphy.
|Track #||English Title||Japanese Title||Characters Performing|
|2||Where is the Justice?||Where is the Justice? (正義はどこに, Seigi wa Doko ni)||Light, ensemble|
|3||They're Only Human||Pathetic Humans (哀れな人間, Awarena Ningen)||Rem, Ryuk|
|n/a||If Possible (できるものなら, Dekiru Mono Nara)||Light|
|4||Hurricane||Death Note (デスノート, Desu Noto)||Light|
|5||Kira||Kira (キラ, Kira)||Ryuk|
|6||Ready to Love (恋する覚悟, Koi Suru Kakugo)||Misa|
|7||My Hero (私のヒーロー, Watashi no Hīrō)||Sayu, Misa|
|8||The Game Begins||The Game Begins (ゲームの始まり, Gēmu no Hajimari)||L|
|9||Don't Cross That Line (一線を越えるな, Issen wo Koeru na)||Soichiro, Light|
|10||Secrets and Lies (秘密と嘘, Himitsu to Uso)||L, Light, Soichiro|
|n/a||Death Note Reprise||Light|
|n/a||If Possible Reprise||Task Force|
|11||Where is the Justice Reprise (正義はどこに リプライズ, Seigi wa Doko ni Ripuraizu)||L, Light, ensemble|
|n/a||Where is the Justice Reprise 2||ensemble|
|12||A Cruel Dream (残酷な夢, Zankokuna Yume)||Misa, Rem|
|13||Stalemate||A Game of Death (死のゲーム, Shi no Gēmu)||L, Light, Misa|
|14||I'll Only Love You More||A Secret Message (秘密のメッセージ, Himitsu no messēji)||Misa|
|15||The Way Things Are ||The Unwavering Truth (揺るがぬ真実, Yuruganu Shinjitsu)||L|
|n/a||Pedestrian Scramble (スクランブル交差点, Sukuranburu Kousaten)||ensemble|
|16||A Cruel Dream Reprise (残酷な夢 リプライズ, Zankokuna Yume Ripuraizu)||Ryuk, Rem|
|17||Honor Bound||With Honor (名誉にかけて, Meiyo ni Kakete)||Soichiro|
|18||Playing His Game||Into Him (ヤツの中へ, Yatsu no Naka he)||Light, L|
|19||The Value of Life (命の価値, Inochi no Kachi)||Misa (various dialogue)|
|20||When Love Comes||Foolish Love (愚かな愛, Oroka na Ai)||Rem|
|n/a||The Unwavering Truth Reprise||L (Light dialogue)|
|21||Last Moments (最期の時, Saigo no Toki)||Light, L|
|n/a||Death Note Reprise 2||Light|
|22||Requiem||Requiem (レクイエム, Rekuiemu)||ensemble|
The track numbers and the Japanese titles are from the official Japanese soundtracks. Not all of the songs (notably the multiple reprises) were released on the soundtracks, so some do not have track numbers.
For the English-to-Japanese translation, several of the titles were not translated literally. Many of the lyrics were changed as well. For instance, the Japanese version Yatsu no Naka he (ヤツの中へ, Inside of Him) has very different lyrics from the original Playing His Game.
The musical first ran at the Nissay Theatre in Tokyo, Japan from April 6, 2015 to April 29, 2015. It was directed by Tamiya Kuriyama, who also directed the Korean production.
Two CDs of the songs performed, one featuring Kenji Urai performing as Light and the other featuring Hayato Kakizawa performing as Light, were released July 2015.
Two of the live performances were recorded to air on TV in Japan. The first, with Kenji Urai as Light, aired on October 17th, 2015. The second, with Hayato Kakizawa as Light, aired on November 7th, 2015.
HoriPro has announced that the musical will run again in September 2017 at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, with most of the main cast returning. Prior to the second run, the new main cast will have four performances of Death Note: The Concert in March 2017, featuring music from the musical.
|Character||Cast (2015)||Cast (2017)|
|Light Yagami||Kenji Urai (浦井健治) (shared role)|
|Hayato Kakizawa (柿澤勇人) (shared role)|
|L||Teppei Koike (小池徹平)|
|Misa Amane||Fuka Yuzuki (唯月ふうか)|
|Rem||Megumi Hamada (濱田めぐみ)|
|Soichiro Yagami||Takeshi Kaga (鹿賀丈史)||Tetsuya Bessho (別所哲也)|
|Ryuk||Kotaro Yoshida (吉田鋼太郎)||Kazutaka Ishii (石井一孝)|
|Sayu Yagami||Ami Maeshima (前島亜美)||Karin Takahashi (髙橋果鈴)|
The Korean-language musical ran at the Seongnam Arts Center Opera House in Seongnam, South Korea from June 11th to August 11th, 2015. The Korean version was translated from the Japanese version, rather than from the original English version, and includes the lyric changes to songs made in the Japanese translation. The Korean production was directed by Tamiya Kuriyama, who also directed the Japanese production, and produced by CJES.
The musical returned for a second production from January 3rd to January 26th, 2017, at the Seoul Arts Center Opera House in Seoul. Kim Junsu reprised his role as L, but several of the leads were played by new actors. Prior to the return, a showcase was held on December 19, 2016 at the Lotte Concert Hall. Tickets for the showcase went on sale on December 12th and sold out within one minute. The showcase was streamed live online with over 58,800 viewers watching it live. On January 25th, 2017, the production had a Backstage Live Special streamed live online. The video featured the main cast backstage in a group interview.
|Character||Cast (2015)||Cast (2017)|
|L||Kim Junsu (김준수)|
|Light Yagami||Hong Kwang-Ho (홍광호)||Han Ji-Sang (한지상)|
|Misa Amane||Jeong Sun-Ah (정선아)||Ben (벤)|
|Ryuk||Kang Hong-Seok (강홍석)|
|Rem||Park Hye-Na (박혜나)|
|Sayu Yagami||Lee Su-Bin (이수빈)|
|Soichiro Yagami||Lee Jong-Moon (이종문)||Seo Young-Ju (서영주)|
A series of videos were released online as advertisement for both the 2015 and 2017 productions, which included several music videos with studio recordings of the music. Music videos were released for:
- Death Note performed by Hong Kwang-ho (Light, 2015)
- The Game Begins performed by Kim Junsu (L, 2015)
- Where is the Justice? (English-language) performed by Jeremy Jordan (Light, 2015)
- I'll Only Love You More was released twice, first performed by Jeong Sun-Ah (Misa, 2015), and a second time performed by Ben (Misa, 2017)
- Playing His Game performed by Kim Junsu (L) and Han Ji Sang (Light) (2017)
- The Way Things Are performed by Kim Junsu (L, 2017)
- They're Only Human performed by Kang Hong-Suk (Ryuk) and Park Hye-Na (Rem) (2017)
See Death Note: The Musical/Video Gallery for more official videos.
The script and song lyrics were originally written in English. In April 2014, there was a closed English-language workshop, and in December 2014, demo songs were recorded in studio by a New York cast.
|Character||2014 workshop||2014 demo recording|
|Light Yagami||Andy Kelso||Jeremy Jordan|
|L||Drew Gehling||Jarrod Spector|
|Misa Amane||Adrienne Warren|
|Rem||Jackie Burns||Carrie Manolakos|
|Soichiro Yagami||Robert Cuccioli||Michael Lanning|
The 2014 workshop included Deborah Lew as an additional character named Toko, and the ensemble included Alysha Deslorieux, Sean Jenness, Sara King, Dan Kohler, Adam Pribila, Rashidra Scott, Sara Sheperd, and Jason Wooten.
Eight of the demo songs were released online in 2015. There have been rumors since 2014 of a Broadway production, but no production has been announced. On January 16th, 2017, when a fan asked script-writer Ivan Menchell on Twitter, "Where's the English version??" Menchell responded, "coming soon!"
Possible future productionsEdit
According to HoriPro CEO Yoshitaka Hori, Death Note: The Musical could have future productions in other countries, as HoriPro is interested in licensing production rights. France was one of the countries mentioned that was interested in putting on a production. It could take 5-10 years for another production to get going due to preparation time.
- Official Website (archived) (English version - archived)
- Official Twitter
- Official Facebook
- CJeS's Official Website (Korean production)