Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar winner “Spirited Away” is getting the stage play treatment, courtesy of Toho Co., Ltd and award-winning theater director John Caird (“Les Misérables,” “Nicholas Nickleby,” “Daddy Long Legs”). The play is eyeing a world premiere run February-March 2022 in Tokyo, followed by a tour through Japan in cities such as Osaka (April 2022), Fukuoka (May 2022), Sapporo (June 2022), and Nagoya (June and July). Caird is also known for being the Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
“Spirited Away” is often considered one of Miyazaki’s best films and, up until last year, was the highest grossing film in Japan. The story centers on Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl moving with her parents to their new home. The family loses itself in a mysterious world of fantastic spirits, ruled over by the sorceress Yubaba, who turns Chihiro’s parents into pigs. After a series of bizarre and dangerous challenges, including the loss of her identity, Chihiro must use all her wits to survive in this strange place and return to the human world.
The upcoming “Spirited Away” stage play has cast two actresses as Chihiro, Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi. The play will mark the stage debut of Kanna, while Mone is a bigger star in Japan and recently gained attention for her voice role in the blockbuster anime film “Your Name.”
“I feel so excited and privileged to be working on the first ever stage adaptation of ‘Spirited Away,'” director Caird said in a statement. “I have for many years now regarded Hayao Miyazaki as one of the preeminent geniuses of world cinema and the greatest ever proponent of the anime form.”
Caird continued, “I share a belief in all the most dominant themes of Miyazaki’s work, themes that are at the core of the ‘Spirited Away’ 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.”
Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki added in a statement: “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. I could tell how much he adores this story from his delighted face when I gave him a No-Face (Kaonashi) piggy-bank.”