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Toshio Suzuki, John Caird, Maoko Imai, and Cast Members Discuss First-Ever Stage Adaptation of Spirited Away On Press Conference

posted on by Choo Sum Lee

On November 9, Studio Ghibli's Toshio Suzuki, writer and director John Caird, supporting director Maoko Imai, and cast members, including Kanna Hashimoto, Mone Kamishiraishi, and Mari Natsuki, convened at a press conference hosted by Toho Co., LTD. to discuss the upcoming live-stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away.

Group photo of the attendees. ©Toho Co., LTD.

Suzuki felt touched by the fact that a stage adaptation is finally happening two decades after Spirited Away's initial release, and recounted the first meeting between Miyazaki and Caird: “They just clicked right away, and Miyazaki immediately said ‘okay’ to the idea” He added that the adaptation was possible because of Miyazaki's belief that the film is "so widely beloved that it has become everyone's piece, not just his.”

Caird, a big fan of Ghibli films, equated Hayao Miyazaki with storytellers like Charles Dickens, Lewis Carol, and Hans Christian Andersen on his ability to enrapture the minds of children of children with his stories. Despite his belief that Spirited Away is very theatrical and suitable for a stage production, Caird is still surprised at how quickly Miyazaki greenlit the production. Revealing that Miyazaki had told him to “have fun,” Caird turned to the lively cast members and said, “I can guarantee you we're going to have fun.”

John Caird. ©Toho Co., LTD.

Caird has also been working with an impressive lineup of creatives for this production, including Brad Haak (Knights' Tale) on music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations; Jon Bausor (London Paralympics Opening Ceremony in 2012) on set design; Toby Olié (puppeteer/associate puppetry director for Olivier Award/Tony Award-winning War Horse) on puppetry design and direction; and Shigehiro Ide on choreography.

The cast also shared their excitement for the adaptation and their roles. Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi are double-cast as Chihiro, and Hashimoto will notably be making her stage debut at Tokyo's historic Imperial Theatre (the only other actor to debut as a heroine in the same theatre is Minako Honda for the Japan premiere of Miss Saigon in 1992). “I can relate myself with Chihiro who gets lost in the world of gods because this will be my theatre debut and it will be my new adventure to the theatre world. I am hoping to live Chihiro instead of acting as her,” Hashimoto commented on her role.

Kamishiraishi is also feeling the pressure of playing the lead role in this momentous production. "I am going to convert the pressure I am feeling into energy. I hope I can be as brave as Chihiro," said Kamishiraishi.

Mone Kamishiraishi (left), Kanna Hashimoto (right). ©Toho Co., LTD.

Finally, Tomohiko Tsujimoto, who is double-cast as No Face alongside Koharu Sugawara, showed off an improvisational dance inspired by the character at the press conference. After seeing his dance, Caird was seemingly inspired. “I didn't know how we're going to do it (to show No Face on stage) until now. Now I know how to do it,” he said.

The dates and venues of the Spirited Away stage adaptation are as follows:

  • March 2-29, 2022 (Previews on February 28 and March 1, 2022) at Imperial Theatre (Tokyo)
  • April 13-24, 2022 at Umeda Arts Theater (Osaka)
  • May 1-28, 2022 at Hakataza Theater (Fukuoka)
  • June 6-12, 2022 at Sapporo Cultural Arts Theater hitaru (Hokkaido)
  • June 22-July 4, 2022 at Misonoza Theater (Aichi)

Source: Press Release

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