Get a first glimpse of the My Neighbour Totoro stage play

3 mins
29 Jun 2022
Get a first glimpse of the My Neighbour Totoro stage play

The Royal Shakespeare Company has released images of the Studio Ghibli adapted show, with puppets from the man behind The Muppet Show and Sesame Street

words Jack Ramage

Catbus fans and cuddly Totoro lovers – it’s finally here! A stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli's My Neighbour Totoro is set to hit London’s Barbican in October 2022. Ahead of the show, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), which is adapting the beloved animated film for stage, has released a behind-the-scenes look at the production.

RSC has partnered with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, famous for producing puppets for The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, to bring the characters to life. Designed by the award-winning puppeteer, Basil Twist, the puppets are currently being made in Los Angeles — said to include a live-sized Totoro and cat bus!

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Speaking about the new show, Twist said in a statement: "I feel an immense responsibility to bring the iconic characters of My Neighbour Totoro to life on stage. I want to honour these characters and capture the enchanting mystery of this beloved story. I want audiences to be inspired by the same feeling they get from the film when they meet Totoro on stage, so I chose to bring in the team at Jim Henson's Creature Shop to make sure we got it right.

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Jay P Morgan © RSC
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Jay P Morgan © RSC

"The Jim Henson Company is synonymous with imagination and childhood. I have been building puppets since I was a young boy, and to me there is still nothing more magical than when a seemingly inanimate object comes to life before your eyes. I have worked with the team at the Shop over the course of my career, so when I accepted this challenge and needed a team who could build my designs and bring Studio Ghibli's treasured characters to life, I knew it had to be Henson. I truly believe we are creating something extraordinary," Twist continued.

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Jay P Morgan © RSC
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Jay P Morgan © RSC

The award-winning anime was first released in 1988 and penned by Studio Ghibli’s head honcho Hayao Miyazaki. The story follows the lives of two sisters, Mei and Satsuki, who move to the countryside and encounter magical creatures. The film has since become a much-loved part of global pop culture, but it actually took 13 years from its first release to be shown on a big screen in the UK — in 2001, at the Barbican Cinema. So, we’re back where it all began for Britain!

And if you’re hankering for more IRL Ghibli experiences and you have the moolah to do it, the official Studio Ghibli theme park is finally opening its gates November 1 in Japan. The park features amusements and architecture inspired by Ghibli’s biggest movies, including Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. There’s also a huge Cat Bus ride and a full-scale house from My Neighbour Totoro. Take a peek at some images from the park here, and get booking.

The My Neighbour Totoro show will run at the Barbican in London on 8 October 2022, with an official opening night on 18 October. Tickets for shows running through to 23 January 2023 are available now. In the meantime, be sure to check out the behind-the-scenes glimpses here, provided by the RSC.

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