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My Neighbor Totoro Stage Play Will Return to London's Barbican Centre From November

posted on by Andrew Osmond
Director expresses interest for bringing show to New York

© Studio Ghibli, RSC and Nippon TV
According to the Deadline website, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)'s stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli's and Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro will return to London's Barbican Centre in late 2023 for a 17-week run. The new season will last from November 21, 2023 to March 23, 2024.

My Neighbor Totoro originally premiered on October 8, 2022 and had a 15-week run to January 21, 2023.

Priority booking for the new season will start on April 11, and public booking will start on April 21. The casting will be announced soon.

According to Deadline, there will be new puppets in the returning show, with director Phelim McDermott saying they will be made stronger so they last longer. He describes the puppets in the original production as the prototypes.

He also says that he would love the show to come to New York.

My Neighbor Totoro had a 15-week run from its premiere on October 8, 2022 to January 21, 2023. More than 130,000 people saw the play during this run. It was 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. Tom Morton-Smith (Oppenheimer) adapted the story, and Phelim McDermott (Akhnaten) directed the production. The play was made in collaboration with the English theatre company Improbable and Japan's Nippon TV.

The play won five awards at the theatrical WhatsOnStage Awards in February. The play won:

  • Best Set Design - Tom Pye and Basil Twist
  • Best Lighting Design - Jessica Hung Han Yun
  • Best Sound Design - Tony Gayle
  • Best Direction - Phelim McDermott
  • Best Musical Direction/Supervision - Bruce O'Neil and Matt Smith

The play has since been nominated for nine Olivier Awards; the awards ceremony will take place on Sunday April 2.

Interviewed previously by the Deadline website about the original production, the director Phelim McDermott specified that two girls in the story would be 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 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."

Morton-Smith said 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.”

The RSC described the production on its website:

"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.

Source: Deadline

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