Theatre News

Jim Henson's Creature Shop to create puppets for My Neighbour Totoro on stage

The show’s eagerly anticipated world premiere approaches

Jim Henson's Creature Shop behind the scenes
Jim Henson's Creature Shop behind the scenes
© RSC, photo by Jay P Morgan
The RSC has revealed that Jim Henson's Creature Shop will be creating original puppets for the upcoming world premiere of My Neighbour Totoro.

The show runs at the Barbican in London 8 October 2022, with an official opening night on 18 October. Tickets for performances through to 23 January 2023 are available below.

The 1988 animated feature, penned by Hayao Miyazaki, follows the lives of sisters Satsuki and Mei as they move to the countryside and encounter magical creatures. It was first shown on the big screen in the UK in 2001, at the Barbican Cinema.

The new puppets are created by Basil Twist at the Jim Henson Creature Shop in LA. The Shop is responsible for iconic characters from Labyrinth, Sesame Street and The Dark Crystal. Additional puppets will be created by Mervyn Millar (War Horse) in the UK.

Twist said today: "I feel an immense responsibility to bring the iconic characters of My Neighbour Totoro to life on stage. I want to honour these characters and capture the enchanting mystery of this beloved story. I want audiences to be inspired by the same feeling they get from the film when they meet Totoro on stage, so I chose to bring in the team at Jim Henson's Creature Shop to make sure we got it right.

"The Jim Henson Company is synonymous with imagination and childhood. I have been building puppets since I was a young boy, and to me there is still nothing more magical than when a seemingly inanimate object comes to life before your eyes. I have worked with the team at the Shop over the course of my career, so when I accepted this challenge and needed a team who could build my designs and bring Studio Ghibli's treasured characters to life, I knew it had to be Henson. I truly believe we are creating something extraordinary."

The stage production of My Neighbour Totoro will blend music, puppetry and storytelling to bring Miyazaki's tale to life, with Tom Morton-Smith (Oppenheimer) adapting the book.

Joe Hisaishi's beloved score will be performed live in the show, which also has new orchestrations by Will Stuart and sound design by Tony Gayle.

Directed by Phelim McDermott with production design by Tom Pye, costumes by Kimie Nakano, lighting by Jessica Hung Han Yun, and movement by You-Ri Yamanaka, the production will feature puppetry created by Twist. The associate director is Ailin Conant. Artwork for the stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro includes a hand drawn title by Toshio Suzuki, producer for Studio Ghibli.

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My Neighbour Totoro

Closed: 21 January 2023