The stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli classic 1988 film My Neighbour Totoro, officially opened Tuesday night at London’s Barbican Theater. The show has attracted immense interest from the international theater community.
Stage producers and theater owners from New York, Paris, Australia, Korea, Canada and Australia have been tracking the progress of the production being presented by composer Joe Hisaishi and the Royal Shakespeare Company. If you aren’t aware, Joe Hisaishi is the original composer of the film, including many other beloved titles in Studio Ghibli’s catalog. For the show itself, the creatives from Jim Henson Creature Shop were invited to join the project by puppetry director Basil Twist to help create Totoro, the magical forest spirit at the heart of the story. The story follows Totoro, who is discovered by two sisters 10-year-old Satsuki and 4-year-old Mei, who move with their father to a Japanese village, close to where their mother is hospitalized with an illness. The Creature Shop also built the show’s cat bus, a vehicle that takes on passengers and flies. Significant Object is another company involved in the production who created all the other puppets for My Neighbour Totoro.
The show producer’s were unable to discuss the possibility of a transfer from the Barbican to the West End. However, director McDermott didn’t rule it out during a public talk about My Neighbour Totoro held in one of the Barbican’s cinemas. ”We would love the show to continue,” he told the audience. ”I’m pretty sure that this won’t be the end of the story, and I think the challenge for us is: How do we look after the spirit of the piece so that it is maintained?”
The show has broken box-office records at the Barbican, with its 15-week run close to selling out.
You can catch the film on HBO Max along with the entirety of the Studio Ghibli film collection.