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.
Light Yagami proclaims the failures of the justice system to his teacher, his classmates rallying to his side as he does so. ("Where is the Justice"). Meanwhile, two Shinigami named Ryuk and Rem discuss how pitiful humans are, before Ryuk, seeking entertainment, drops the Death Note into the human world. ("They're Only Human"). Light finds it in the street and jokingly writes the name of a criminal that is currently holding a group of children hostage ("Change the World"). When the criminal dies, Light is initially horrified - until his hatred of criminals prompts him to use the Death Note to rid the earth of crime, beginning a series of murders that quickly attracts the attention of the police ("Hurricane"). Following this, Soichiro Yagami reluctantly proposes that they enlist L.
Whilst Light flicks through the Death Note in his room, Ryuk appears and identifies himself as the notebook's original owner. He reveals that he will write Light's name inside when it's his time to die and that only those who have touched the Death Note can see him—as demonstrated when Light's little sister, Sayu, bursts into the room, completely oblivious to Ryuk's presence. When she leaves, Light reveals his plans to become the world's savior, using the internet to show Ryuk that people have joyously labelled the killings the work of "Kira". Ryuk, amused that their "hero" is no more than a bratty teenager, reveals that he didn't choose Light for the task and merely dropped the Death Note out of boredom ("Kira"). Subsequently, Light and Sayu attends the concert of famous idol Misa Amane, who dedicates her performance to Kira ("I'm Ready"). Afterwards, when Sayu mentions that she believes Kira's actions are wrong, Light asks what she would say to Kira if she met him. He is left stunned by her response - she would tell him to stop, declaring that he should follow her brother's example, whilst Misa muses over how much she idolizes Kira ("We All Need a Hero").
Returning home, Light watches an Interpol broadcast in which L reveals himself and vows to capture Kira, causing Light to write his name in the Death Note. However, this turns out to be a trap; after the man dies, the real L's voice enters, explaining that his stand-in was a criminal scheduled for execution. Ending the broadcast with the deduction that Kira is in the Kantō region, L ponders their oncoming battle, realizing that his opponent is a high school student ("The Game Begins"). Reeling after carelessly falling into L’s trap, Light tries to learn more about the Death Note from Ryuk, wondering how far he can manipulate the details of a person's death. Soichiro enters the room and discusses the case with his son, mentioning L's deduction from the schedule of murders that Kira is a student. Soichiro then declares that L was wrong to sacrifice his stand-in during the broadcast, advising Light to be as righteous as possible whilst unaware that he is Kira ("There Are Lines").
Whilst L deduces that Kira needs a name and a face to kill, Light asks Ryuk, who can see someone's name above their heads, to tell him L's name should they ever meet him. Ryuk instead offers to give Light his own "Shinigami Eyes" in exchange for half of his remaining lifespan. Rebuffing the deal, Light changes the schedule of murders, revealing Kira's connection to the police and forcing L to probe his own investigation team. Confident that the task force will retaliate by finding and exposing L's identity, Light ponders with his opponent the outcome of their game ("Secrets and Lies"). Afterwards, a news broadcast announces that the FBI have sent several agents to Japan, prompting Light to find the identity of one agent, Haley Belle, on his fiancée's social media profiles. Writing Belle's name in the notebook, Light specifies that they meet at Shinjuku Station, where the agent writes the names of his colleagues onto a Death Note scrap before committing suicide ("Hurricane (reprise)").
Upon learning the deaths of the FBI agents, the task force is torn between their duty to capture Kira and fear of being killed. Soichiro gives each man the opportunity to leave, prompting one to quit the case. ("Change the World (reprise)"). Light and L listen from different locations as the citizens praise Kira, with the detective vowing to bring him to justice. Suddenly, a second Death Note falls from the sky and is discovered by Misa, who has fled from a stalker's clutches. ("Where is the Justice (reprise)").
After the crowd praises Kira once more ("Where is the Justice (reprise)"), Rem appears before Misa. She reveals that the newly-dropped Death Note belonged to her stalker's killer, a Shinigami named Gelus who turned to sand upon extending Misa's lifespan. Explaining that Kira punished the man who murdered her parents, Misa begs a reluctant Rem to give her Shinigami Eyes so she can assist him ("Mortals and Fools"). Meanwhile, the task force admits to Soichiro their lack of trust in L, including their suspicion that he is really Kira. L then appears before them and offers his own suspect - Light Yagami. Vowing to investigate him closely, he meets the young genius in college, catching him off-guard by revealing himself to be L. As the pair plot each other's downfall, Misa writes a new song declaring in subtext her devotion to Kira ("Stalemate"). As she records it, she sends a message to a TV station as "the Second Kira", begging to meet the original in Shibuya, which disturbs Light but amuses Ryuk ("I'll Only Love You More"). This message also forces L to accept the impossible, including the likelihood that Shinigami exist ("The Way Things Are").
The next day in Shibuya, news of the two Kiras is met with joy by the people, hopeful that the pair will join forces ("Where is the Justice (reprise)"). Afterwards, Light and Misa meet and introduce their Shinigami to one another. When Misa begs him to become her boyfriend in exchange for her help, Light manipulates her into revealing the name of a task force member following them, much to Rem's horror. After agreeing to meet on the college campus, they leave Ryuk and Rem to ponder the situation, with Ryuk warning Rem about getting too attached to Misa. ("Mortals and Fools (reprise)"). Later, L's continued assertions of Light's guilt results in a heated argument with Soichiro, ending with the revelation that the officer who tailed Light has committed suicide. Convinced that the two Kiras are working together, L leaves Soichiro to question his faith in his son ("Honor Bound").
Back at college, L challenges Light to a set of tennis, the intensity of their mental battle boiling over into the match ("Playing His Game"). After winning, Light probes L about his suspicions, at which point Misa arrives. Light introduces her to L, allowing Misa to see the latter's real name. However, L has her arrested before she can reveal what she knows, having found evidence on the envelope sent to the TV station that ties her to the Second Kira. Blindfolding her and chaining her to a cross, L tries to force Misa into confessing, but she refuses. Appalled, Soichiro predicts that L will pay for torturing Misa and reaffirms his belief in Light ("Borrowed Time"). Rem then enters Misa's cell, offering to erase her memory of the Death Note so that she won't betray Light. Misa agrees, leaving Rem heartbroken ("When Love Comes"). She then finds Light and Ryuk, at which point Light declares that she must write L's name in the Death Note, sacrificing herself to save Misa just like Gelus. Anticipating this, Rem agrees and orchestrates L's death as Light specifies.
With the stage set for the final showdown, L goes to meet Light in an abandoned warehouse on Daikoku Wharf ("The Way Things Are (reprise)"). Upon arrival, L holds Light at gunpoint, whereupon the latter confesses and reveals both his Death Note and Ryuk. Light then declares his victory, as L's name has already been written by Rem ("The Way It Ends"). L shoots his foe, but this is part of Light's plan - he will tell Soichiro that L was the real Kira and tried to kill him, thus allowing him to join and ultimately manipulate the task force under the pretence of finding the Second Kira. However, L warns Light that the game has not yet finished before committing suicide, and is ultimately proven correct. As Ryuk congratulates Light, he laments that life will return to a boring routine without L to challenge him. Playing the final move, Ryuk writes Light's name in the Death Note as the latter begs to be spared, declaring himself "the God of the New World" before he dies ("Hurricane (reprise)"). Remarking that everyone's efforts were meaningless, Ryuk departs with the Death Note.
As the people mourn the loss of Kira, Soichiro and Sayu find the bodies in the warehouse and are left without knowing what really happened to Light. Meanwhile, Misa finds Rem's remains and disperses them, marking the latter's death and the end of the story ("Requiem").
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, Teacher, Students|
|3||They're Only Human||Pathetic Humans (哀れな人間, Awarena Ningen)||Rem, Ryuk|
|n/a||Change the World||If Possible (できるものなら, Dekiru Mono Nara)||Light, Company|
|4||Hurricane||Death Note (デスノート, Desu Noto)||Light|
|5||Kira||Kira (キラ, Kira)||Ryuk, Company|
|6||I'm Ready||Ready to Love (恋する覚悟, Koi Suru Kakugo)||Misa, Backup Singers|
|7||We All Need a Hero||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||There Are Lines||Don't Cross That Line (一線を越えるな, Issen wo Koeru na)||Soichiro, Light|
|10||Secrets and Lies||Secrets and Lies (秘密と嘘, Himitsu to Uso)||L, Light, Soichiro|
|n/a||Hurricane (reprise)||Death Note Reprise||Light|
|n/a||Change the World (reprise)||If Possible Reprise||Task Force|
|11||Where is the Justice (reprise)||Where is the Justice Reprise (正義はどこに リプライズ, Seigi wa Doko ni Ripuraizu)||L, Light, Company|
|n/a||Where is the Justice (reprise) (2)||Where is the Justice Reprise (2)||Company|
|12||Mortals and Fools||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, Company|
|14||I'll Only Love You More||A Secret Message (秘密のメッセージ, Himitsu no messēji)||Misa, Sayu, Company|
|15||The Way Things Are ||The Unwavering Truth (揺るがぬ真実, Yuruganu Shinjitsu)||L|
|n/a||Where is the Justice (reprise) (3)||Pedestrian Scramble (スクランブル交差点, Sukuranburu Kousaten)||Company|
|16||Mortals and Fools (reprise)||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)||L, Light|
|19||Borrowed Time||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 Way Things Are (reprise)||The Unwavering Truth Reprise||L (Light dialogue)|
|21||The Way It Ends||Last Moments (最期の時, Saigo no Toki)||L, Light|
|n/a||Hurricane (reprise) (2)||Death Note Reprise (2)||Light|
|22||Requiem||Requiem (レクイエム, Rekuiemu)||Company|
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 had four performances of Death Note: The Concert in March 2017, featuring music from the show. In July 2017, the Japanese cast will have three performances at the National Taichung Theater in Taichung, Taiwan.
|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 to advertise both the 2015 and 2017 productions, including several music videos:
- Death Note was released twice, performed respectively by Hong Kwang-Ho (Light, 2015) and Han Ji-Sang (Light, 2017)
- The Game Begins performed by Kim Junsu (L, 2015)
- Where is the Justice (NY Demo) performed by Jeremy Jordan (Light, 2015)
- I'll Only Love You More was released twice, performed respectively by Jeong Sun-Ah (Misa, 2015) and Ben (Misa, 2017)
- Playing His Game performed by Kim Junsu and Han Ji-Sang (L and Light, 2017)
- The Way Things Are performed by Kim Junsu (L, 2017)
- They're Only Human performed by Kang Hong-Suk and Park Hye-Na (Ryuk and 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, and eight of them were released in 2015.
|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.
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. Furthermore, there have been rumors since 2014 of the show coming to Broadway. Initially, it was thought that it would take 5-10 years for a production outside of Asia to get going due to preparation time. However, on January 16th, 2017, when a fan asked script-writer Ivan Menchell on Twitter, "Where's the English version??" Menchell responded, "coming soon!", implying that news of a full English production is imminent. 
- Official Website (archived) (English version - archived)
- Official Twitter
- Official Facebook
- CJeS's Official Website (Korean production)