Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi and the UK’s Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are creating a stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s anime masterpiece My Neighbour Totoro (1988). Japan’s Nippon TV and UK theatre company Improbable are also collaborating with Hisaishi and RSC for the show. Studio Ghibli is on board too.
My Neighbour Totoro was directed by the illustrious Hayao Miyazaki, who is widely hailed as one of the greatest filmmakers in cinematic history. The film, which is set in Japan during the 1950s, is about two young sisters who discover a wonderland populated by magical creatures in the countryside, including the titular Totoro, who plays a important role in the story.
More about stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro
Hisaishi was the composer of the film
Hisaishi, who is an executive producer of the show, was the composer for My Neighbour Totoro. His score for the film — as well as the music that wasn’t part of the movie — will be included in the stage adaptation.
Phelim McDermott, who is the co-Artistic Director of Improbable, will be directing the show. British playwright Tom Morton-Smith has adapted the film for the stage version. The production design is being handled by Tom Pye.
The show will feature an ensemble cast with performers of Japanese, East and South East Asian heritage.
McDermott told Deadline that the show will not be a musical, though there will be a live on-stage band and “it may be that during certain scenes you hear a beautiful voice, like you do in the film.”
Morton-Smith met Miyazaki in Japan
For the purpose of the stage adaptation, Morton-Smith travelled to Japan to meet Miyazaki. The playwright told Deadline that Miyazaki asked him if he was a feminist, to which he replied with a ‘yes’. He was told that the girls are central to the film.
“All of his [Miyazaki’s] films are fantastical and magical and there’s so much in them that chime with childhood. It’s all about exploring the natural world and running around and having this really involved fantasy life,” Morton-Smith told Deadline.
How to book the show?
The stage version of My Neighbour Totoro will begin at London’s Barbican Centre for a limited 15-week season, running from 8 October 2022 through 21 January 2023.
Booking for the show begins 9 May at Totoroshow.com.
If that’s not enough, here’s how you can also stream a live-action adaptation of another Ghibli classic, Spirited Away this summer.
(Main and Featured images: Netflix)