The Royal Shakespeare Company is set to stage an adaptation of beloved 1988 Studio Ghibli classic My Neighbour Totoro.
The world premiere of the stage adaptation, directed by Phelim McDermott and featuring puppets created by Basil Twist, will have a limited 15-week run at London’s Barbican from October 2022 until January 2023.
My Neighbour Totoro follows sisters Mei and Satsuki, who move to an old house while their mother recovers from a pretty severe illness. While exploring the neighbouring forest, Mei stumbles upon a magical world of cryptids, creatures and monsters, including the titular Totoro.
Erica Whyman, the RSC’s acting artistic director, said: “Adapting this deeply loved magical story for the stage is the next chapter in our longstanding commitment to making spectacular and accessible productions that see the world through the eyes of children,” adding that the show would attract “a wide range of theatre audiences as well as loyal fans of the original film”.
Ranking it the ninth best Studio Ghibli film in 2018, NME described My Neighbour Totoro – created by Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki – as “an iconic film that captures so purely how we find strength in our families” as well as “the perfect introduction to Ghibli and the antidote to the rainy-day blues”.
The RSC’s stage version will be adapted by Tom Morton-Smith, who praised the film as a “very wholesome, beautiful world that washes over you”.
“These young girls are discovering nature for the first time, so there are long shots of a snail on a leaf or a fish in a stream or a frog jumping in a puddle,” he said. “It doesn’t feel particularly propelled by a plot, it’s just a world you inhabit.”
Morton-Smith also described the show’s music – created by Joe Hisaishi, the film’s original composer – as “really evocative and atmospheric”.
Originally announced last year, the Spirited Away play – directed by Tony winner John Caird and produced by Toho Studios – recently finished its initial 2022 run at Tokyo’s Imperial Theater, and is now set to appear in Fukuoka in May, Sapporo in June, and Nagoya in July.