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Totoro Film Gets 1st Stage Play in London by Royal Shakespeare Company (Updated)

posted on by Andrew Osmond
Original composer Joe Hisaishi serves as executive producer

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) announced that the first stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli's and Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro will premiere at London's Barbican Centre on October 8. The play is presented by the RSC and Hayao Miyazaki's longtime composer Joe Hisaishi, who created the music for the original film and serves as the play's executive producer.

The play will have a 15-week run from October 8, 2022 to January 21, 2023. Tom Morton-Smith (Oppenheimer) is adapting the story, and Phelim McDermott (Akhnaten) directs the production. The play will feature puppets by Basil Twist as well as Joe Hisaishi's music, and is made in collaboration with the English theatre company Improbable and Japan's Nippon TV.

There is information about the tickets here. Public booking will open on Thursday May 19, with tickets bookable online from 10 a.m. Priority booking will be available earlier, with RSC members able to book from Thursday May 12.

Ticket prices will be from £20 to £72.50, with a limited number of premium seats from £85. Prices are guaranteed until May 19, but may vary after that. There are also other offers, including a "Family rate" deal offering up to two half-price tickets with every full-paying adult, not valid for performances on Saturday evenings.

The evening performances will be at 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. There will also be matinee performances from Thursday October 20, on Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m, and additional matinees on 19, 21, 23, 27 December and on 2 January.

There will be no matinee on 22 December; no evening performances on 31 December and 2 January; and no performances on 24 and 26 December

Additional events include a creative team talk on 15 October, a "Post-show stay late" on 2 December, and "Insights" on 17 and 24 November.

Interviewed by the Deadline website, the director Phelim McDermott specified that two girls in the story are unlikely to be played by children. “We have to use performers who can do many things …puppetry, physical stuff, so there are choices to be made.” He also specified that the play would not be a musical in the strict sense, although there will be a band onstage playing live music.

McDermott also said that he was introduced to Joe Hisaishi in London five years ago by the composer Phillip Glass; Hisaishi wanted to discuss adapting My Neighbor Totoro for the stage. Writer Tom Morton-Smith met Hayao Miyazaki in Japan about the play, and Miyazaki asked Morton-Smith if he was a feminist. Morton-Smith said, ”I said ‘yes’ and that was very important to him and that the girls are central."

According to Deadline, Morton-Smith added that he had permission "to expand on the beats (in the film) that are already there and show some scenes that aren't in the film.”

Full rehearsals for the play start in July. The RSC describes the production on its website:

The global premiere of Studio Ghibli's My Neighbor Totoro comes to London's Barbican stage this autumn.

"The celebrated 1988 animated feature film by Hayao Miyazaki will be brought to the stage by its original composer Joe Hisaishi in a landmark new adaption by the RSC written by playwright Tom Morton-Smith.

"This enchanting coming-of-age story explores the magical fantasy world of childhood and the transformative power of imagination, as it follows one extraordinary summer in the lives of sisters Satsuki and Mei.

"My Neighbor Totoro will play a strictly limited 15-week season from 8 October 2022 - 21 January 2023 and promises to delight all generations.

The original anime film My Neighbor Totoro is the story of two young sisters, Mei and Satsuki, who move to the countryside and encounter Totoro, wonderful creatures which only children can see.

[Via Ghibliotheque's Twitter feed]

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