Spirited Away | Another Studio Ghibli Classic Destined For The London Stage
At no point while watching Spirited Away – Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning animated film featuring a six-armed boilerman, a flying dragon, a river spirit trapped in about 10 tonnes of sludge, and a translucent monster with no face – are you likely to think, gee, this would be really easy to recreate on stage.
But ‘easy’ isn’t really in the lexicon for most theatre-makers, and after the barnstorming success of the RSC’s production of My Neighbour Totoro, another Studio Ghibli classic is set to come to the London stage.
Spirited Away will be landing for a limited 12-week run at the Coliseum in April 2024, and the trailer already looks amazing. It’s all been ingeniously adapted for theatre by John Caird, whose work as a writer and director spans musicals, operas and plays (including a little fringe show called Les Misérables). Working together with his wife, Maoko Imai, and designer Jon Bausor, he’s created a stunningly inventive show that fuses elements of Western and Japanese theatre traditions, including noh, kabuki and bunraku puppetry. And to be truly authentic to the original film, the show will be performed entirely in Japanese, with live subtitles.
Other collaborators include Toby Olié (who’s worked on puppets for the Royal Ballet, Shakespeare’s Globe, and War Horse at the National Theatre, and has clearly outdone himself here) and some uncanny costume design by Sachiko Nakahara. Any Ghibli fan will know that half the magic of the movies is down to the expressive scores of Joe Hisaishi, and his music will be brought to life here too, alongside some brand new songs using previously unseen lyrics written by Miyazaki himself.
A brief, and probably mystifying introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the plot: Spirited Away is an animated film from one of Japan’s most beloved production houses, Studio Ghibli. It’s a kind of modern fable meets coming-of-age tale centred around Chihiro, a young girl whose parents are turned into pigs – and that’s just the start of her problems. Left with no choice but to work in a bathhouse run by a powerful sorceress in order to secure their release (classic deal), she encounters a cast of increasingly fantastical characters, accidentally befriending a gold-conjuring monster called No Face. But as is so often the case, the real treasure is the self-empowerment she finds along the way.
The stage production premiered in Tokyo in 2022 and has already toured around Japan to rave reviews, so you can bet it’s going to live up to the hype. Tickets are already selling fast – so you’ll have to get in there soon, or hope that there aren’t too many other people interested in watching a live version of the multi-award-winning, highest-grossing film in all of Japanese cinematic history…
NOTE: Spirited Away runs at the London Coliseum from 30th April – 24th August 2024. Tickets start at £28 and are now on sale right HERE.
Spirited Away | London Coliseum, St. Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4ES
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