Studio Ghibli’s much-adored My Neighbour Totoro was brought to the stage for the very first time this year, thanks to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).
The theatre collective worked in collaboration with Improbable, Nippon TV and the revered Japanese studio to bring the global premiere of the performance to London in autumn this year.
It took to the stage on October 8, kicking off a 15-week run of My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican, 34 years after the Hayao Miyazaki’s cult classic was released.
In the UK-Japan co-production, Joe Hisaishi has brought his own iconic score of the movie to a live audience, with the help of a new orchestration by Will Stuart.
The RSC and Studio Ghibli performance has been written by playwright Tom Morton-Smith, and the director’s role comes from Phelim McDermott with production design headed up by Tom Pye. Given this is an anime adaptation, the artwork is clearly a key aspect to the performance, and it already includes a hand drawn title by Toshio Suzuki, a producer for Studio Ghibli who was involved with planning and production for the original film.
Since it began, the show has grown in popularity and securing a ticket is tough, with each show currently sold out. However, anyone keen to nab a ticket to the show may still stand a chance – tickets are known to become available at the last minute on the website, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the Barbican’s page.
Joe Hisaishi, Executive Producer and Original Composer of My Neighbour Totoro, 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.
“This responsibility is a huge task, but we chose to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, a globally prestigious company, and with their support we can make it happen. I am delighted that the RSC have become our partner because I feel much in common between the quality of the RSC and Mr. Miyazaki’s aesthetic.
“This is a ground-breaking project. Phelim McDermott is a wonderful director, and his team are enthusiastic, creative and very hardworking. They love Totoro and the sense of anticipation is high.”
My Neighbour Totoro is a 1988 coming of age tale about a young girl who befriends a group of sprits while her mother is ill in hospital. It was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who went on to create other seminal Studio Ghibli titles such as Spirited Away (2001) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2003).
My Neighbour Totoro is running at the Barbican from October 8, 2022 – January 21, 2023. Book your tickets here!