Theatre News

RSC to adapt My Neighbour Totoro for London stage premiere this autumn

The show is headed for London in October

My Neighbour Totoro
My Neighbour Totoro
Studio Ghibli's revered film My Neighbour Totoro will be brought to the stage by the RSC this winter, it has been announced.

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 show on the big screen in the UK in 2001, at the Barbican Cinema.

Created in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV, the theatrical adaptation will have a 15-week season (fittingly, given where the films were first seen in the UK) at the Barbican in London beginning later this year.

The stage production 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.

Watch a video explaining more about the show:

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 Basil Twist with sound design by Tony Gayle. 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, who was involved in the planning and production of the original animated film. Casting for the production to be announced soon.

Hisaishi, who is also executively producing the piece, said: "In Japan, many people are passionate about theatre and musicals, but there are no original Japanese shows or musicals performed in the world. Totoro is a Japanese work famous throughout the world, and so this stage adaptation could have the potential to reach global audiences.

"That's what I thought, and I told Mr Miyazaki 'I want to see such a show' and he said 'yes, only if you are going to do it'."

"I was involved with the original animation film, and so I feel strongly about not harming the film. If the story is universal – as I believe it is – it will have a global reach even if it is performed by people from different cultural backgrounds speaking different languages. I was sure of this – and so we have chosen to open outside Japan. To me this was important. It's vital to keep distance with the film but it's also important to have new encounters. That's why I put my trust in this project. I believe it will be a great show."

The show will begin performances on 8 October, with an official opening night on 18 October. General booking opens on 19 May 2022.

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My Neighbour Totoro

Closed: 21 January 2023