Making its world premiere, the stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro begins its 15-week engagement at the West End's Barbican Theatre October 8. Performances for the Royal Shakespeare Company production, presented with executive producer Joe Hisaishi, will run through January 21, 2023.
Based on the Japanese animated fantasy movie by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, the coming-of-age adventure story follows sisters Satsuki and Mei who move to the countryside with their father to be closer to their ill mother. Mei explores the new area, meeting magical creature and the ancient protector Totoro in the work's fantasy world setting. Starring as the sisters are Mei Mac as Mei and Ami Okumura Jones as Satsuki.
The company includes Haruka Abe as Yasuko, Nino Furuhata as Kanta, Susan Momoko Hingley as Miss Hara, Haruka Kuroda as Nurse Emiko, Kanako Nakano as Tsukiko, Michael Phong Le as Hiroshi, Dai Tabuchi as Tatsuo, and Jacqueline Tate as Granny, who all additionally serve as puppeteers. Completing the cast of puppeteers are Li-Leng Au, Boaz Chad, Andrew Futaishi, Zachary Hing, Yojiro Ichikawa, Arina Ii, Marian Lee, Matthew Leonhart, Aki Nakagawa, Tobi Poster-Su, Si Rawlinson, and Shaofan Wilson.
Tom Morton-Smith pens the adaptation, which features music from Hisaishi, who serves as composer in addition to executive producer. Phelim McDermott directs the production which features production design by Tom Pye, costumes by Kimie Nakano, lighting by Jessica Hung Han Yun, movement by You-Ri Yamanaka, puppetry by Basil Twist, music by Hisaishi, orchestration by Will Stuart, and sound design by Tony Gayle.
"In Japan, many people are passionate about theatre and musicals, but there are no original Japanese shows or musicals performed in the world," says Hisaishi. "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.'"
Miyazaki also directed and wrote Spirited Away which was recently adapted for the stage and is currently embarking on an international tour.
For tickets and more information, visit Barbican.org.uk.