An iconic entry in the library of animated films from Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away is transforming into a whole new medium to bring its mystical energy to the stage.
Toho Co., Ltd. has announced that the stage production of Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece will premiere in February/March 2022 at the Imperial Theater in Tokyo, Japan. The project, which is the first stage adaptation of the film, will be adapted and directed by John Caird, with the lead role of Chihiro double-cast by Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi.
Spirited Away, originally titled Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, follows a 10-year-old girl named Chihiro who accidentally enters the spirit world and is trapped there working in a bathhouse after her parents are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba. As she tries to find a way to escape and rescue her parents, she is aided by the bathhouse workers and other spirits, including the dragon Haku and even, to some extent, the dark spirit No Face.
Upon its international release, Spirited Away became an Oscar winner and a widespread commercial success, grossing $383.4 million on a budget of approximately $20 million (partially earned over the course of the film's numerous re-releases into theaters). The film, released in 2001, has just celebrated its 20th anniversary.
"I feel so excited and privileged to be working on the first ever stage adaptation of Sen to Chihiro," said Caird about the production. "I have for many years now regarded Miyazaki Hayao as one of the pre-eminent geniuses of world cinema and the greatest ever proponent of the anime form."
He continued, "I share a belief in all the most dominant themes of Miyazaki's work, themes that are at the core of the Sen to Chihiro world - care for the environment, reverence for nature, a belief in the force of the good spirits within us and the empowerment of young women and men to change the world for the better... I must have spent a thousand hours working on Sen to Chihiro and look forward to spending many thousands more."
Toshio Suzuki of Studio Ghibli, who served as producer on the Spirited Away film, weighed in by saying, "We, Hayao and I, both liked John’s vision. He is a person we can trust. I am looking forward to seeing Chihiro grow on stage under his direction." He also noted Caird's commitment by relating, "I could tell how much he adores this story from his delighted face when I gave him a No-Face piggy-bank."
Source: Toho Stage