The Party Starts in Niigata! NGT48 Makes Theater Debut
The opening ceremony of NGT48 Theater took place on January 9, 2016. It was held at the entrance of the theater, with members Rie Kitahara (NGT48 Captain) and Yuki Kashiwagi (concurrency with AKB48). Special guests were Akira Shinoda, Mayor of Niigata City, and Yoshihiro Hirokawa, a managing officer of Mitsui Fudosan, a real estate developer that operates the shopping mall Lovela 2, where the theater is located.
Next to the entrance, there is a device that will display “NGT48 Theater” once it collects 25,000 red balls, so at the ceremony, the 4 participants placed the first 4 balls into the device to commemorate the opening of the theater.
After the ceremony, the entrance and the lobby were opened to the general public, and everyone was able to catch a glimpse of parts of the theater, whose design is based on the same red and white motif as the logo and uniform of the group. It is different from other theaters in that candid photos of the members were posted on the walls. It is also designed like an all-girls’ school, with a blackboard where members can leave messages, or locker rooms designed to look like shoe cupboards. The inside of the theater was not open to public on the 9th.
NGT48 members also surprised shoppers by performing “Koi Suru Fortune Cookie” with the choir from Miyaura Junior High, which is located in Niigata City as well.
On the other hand, Etsuro Imamura, Theater Manager of NGT48, completed his epic 345-kilometer pilgrimage from AKB48 Theater (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) to NGT48 Theater (Niigata City, Niigata) by only walking and biking.
NGT48 members and fans were waiting in cold rain in Bandai City Park near the NGT48 Theater, which was the goal of the journey. Crying members rushed to greet Imamura as he crossed the finish line.
Imamura took a panel from the AKB48 Theater and carried it with him the entire time, because he wanted to infuse the NGT48 Theater with the spirit of the pioneers and pray for the group’s success. The panel was presented to Captain Kitahara, and will be installed in the NGT48 Theater.
“I would really like to thank everyone that came by,” said a teary Imamura, “I was able to carry the spirit of the AKB48 Theater here with me. Finally, tomorrow is the theater debut. Please keep supporting us.”
“I hope the performance tomorrow will be a success,” said Minami Kato, whose voice was cracking because she was also on the verge of tears, “because Imamura-san worked really hard for us, and we’d like to make him proud.”
Then, on January 10, 2016, roughly one year after construction started and 5 months after the debut, NGT48 was finally able to perform in their own theater for the first time.
The debut event started with a video of Imamura’s pilgrimage that reiterated the importance of NGT48 having inherited a piece of AKB48’s spirit.
The memorable first stage, which was decided by members and staff after a fan vote, was “Party ga Hajimaruyo.” When the movable LED panels, which is a specialty of the NGT48 Theater, opened, 16 members of the newly formed Team NIII came on stage in their brand new uniforms, which are in red, white and navy blue.
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