Momoko Tanno, left (photo by Michal Daniel), Christina Baldwin and James Rocco 


When earthquake devastated Haiti last year, singer and actor Momoko Tanno responded with heart and voice. She and others put together a star-studded benefit concert at St Paul's Ordway Center in response to the images of destruction that she saw coming out of the Caribbean.  

It was an exp coping strategy that she had hoped not to repeat. But the recent cascade of disasters in Japan -- the March 11 earthquake and tsunami followed by the ongoing nuclear crisis at a power plant -- have brought the horror back to her, and to millions others.

For Japan-born Tanno, the disaster was closer to home. While her family in Tokyo has escaped the disasters without harm, friends in Fukushima, home of the nuclear power plant that has been releasing radiation into the atmosphere and the ocean, have had a more harrowing experience.

For weeks, she has been unable to reach one friend in particular.

"I found out through Google Person Finder that she was safe, but I still haven't heard from her directly," said Tanno, who performed in "M. Butterfly" at the Guthrie Theater and has appeared in such operas as "Carmen" and "Figaro." She has a mother with a heart disease.  The aftershocks continue daily even after a month

Tanno and others have organized another benefit for Japan. Performers on the bill include James A. Rocco, the director and singer whose production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" was cut short in Tokyo because the disaster. The bill also includes notable performers Christina Baldwin and Jennifer Baldwin Peden, Bradley Greenwald, Regina Marie Williams, Linda Kelsey, Jim Lichtscheidl, Michael Gruber, the Sossy Mechanics, Mu Daiko, Dieter Bierbrauer, Tony Vierling, Erin Schwab and Connie Kunkle from the Donny Osmond production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

7:30 p.m. Mon., Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St Paul. A suggested donation is $35. For tickets, visit the event website or call 651-224-4222. All donations go to the American Red Cross.
While the disaster has brought tears and heartache to Tanno, as to countless others, she has been trying to follow her mother's words. "I became depressed, but then my mother in Japan said to me, 'Don't be sad; it won't make the radiation go away,'" she recalled. "'The earthquake taught us to live life each day to the fullest.  We need to do whatever we're meant to do at this time."

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