Toho Co., LTD. Hosts Official Press Conference for the First-Ever Stage Adaption of Hayao Miyazaki‘s Masterpiece SPIRITED AWAY Featuring Lively Discussion with Cast Members, John Caird, Maoko Imai and Toshio Suzuki
March-June 2022 Dates and Venues Set for Stage Showcase in Japan
On November 9, 2021, Toho Co., LTD. hosted a press conference in Tokyo, Japan for the upcoming theatrical stage production, SPIRITED AWAY (original title: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi), which is set to showcase at the Imperial Theatre in Marunouchi, Tokyo from March 2-29, 2022. The live stage adaption releases during the year of TOHO‘s 90th anniversary.
The press conference brought together cast members, including Kanna Hashimoto, Mone Kamishiraishi and Mari Natsuki, along with writer and director John Caird, supporting director Maoko Imai and Studio Ghibli‘s Toshio Suzuki, producer of the original film SPIRITED AWAY, who each talked about their anticipation for the new stage production. The vibrant energy from the speakers and audience carried throughout the event and built excitement for what’s to come with the SPIRITED AWAY stage production.
Opening on an exciting note, the press conference revealed two posters featuring Hashimoto and Kamishiraish as Chihiro. The surprise reveal served as a first look for the two actors as they saw the posters for the first time, along with the audience who reacted positively to the visuals with a round of applause.
Suzuki said it was “very touching” that the stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli‘s classic is happening two decades after the initial release. He also shared an anecdote of Hayao Miyazaki meeting Caird for the first time: “They just clicked right away, and Miyazaki immediately said ‘okay’ to the idea of the stage adaptation.” He also added that it had come from Miyazaki’s thoughts on SPIRITED AWAY being “so widely beloved that it has become everyone’s piece, not just his.”
Caird, who is a great admirer of Ghibli films, was surprised at Miyazaki’s prompt decision, even though he believed the story of SPIRITED AWAY was very theatrical, and he always felt it could be a stage production. He continued to praise Miyazaki’s stories as having amazing emotional and intellectual integrity and that his talent to get inside the mind of children makes him equal with some of the great storytellers like Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Andersen and Lewis Carol. Caird said: “I think he will go down in history as one of the greatest storytellers.” He revealed that Miyazaki had told him to “have fun.” Caird turned to the lively cast members and said, “I can guarantee you we’re going to have fun.”
During this moment, a torch had been passed from the original SPIRITED AWAY creator to a fan who promised to let the film bloom on an entirely new stage.
Caird shared that he has already been working on the play in London and Tokyo through three workshops with the creatives, including: Brad Haak (Knights’ Tale) on music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations; Jon Bausor (London Paralympics Opening Ceremony in 2012) on set design; Toby Olié (puppeteer/associate puppetry director for Olivier Award/Tony Award winning War Horse) on puppetry design and direction; and Shigehiro Ide on choreography.
HIGHLIGHTS – COMMENTS FROM CAST MEMBERS:
· “I can relate myself with Chihiro who gets lost in the world of gods because this will be my theatre debut and it will be my new adventure to the theatre world. I am hoping to live Chihiro instead of acting as her.” – Kanna Hashimoto (Chihiro, double-cast):
Hashimoto will make her stage debut as Chihiro. The only actor who had made her stage debut as the heroine at the historic Imperial Theatre before Hashimoto is Minako Honda for the Japan premiere of Miss Saigon in 1992.
· “I was absolutely fascinated by the film when I saw it for the first time at the age of seven, including the scary parts. I am going to convert the pressure I am feeling into energy. I hope I can be as brave as Chihiro.” – Mone Kamishiraishi (Chihiro, double-cast):
Kamishiraishi played the role of Jailer’s daughter in Knights’ Tale (2018 and 2021), the musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Two Noble Kinsmen, which was written and directed by John Caird.
· “I am nervous, but I am looking forward to working with and learning from everyone.” – Kotarō Daigo (Haku, double-cast)
· “I am looking forward myself to see how the scene where Haku turns into a dragon will be depicted” – Hiroki Miura (Haku, double-cast)
· “The story sets in a mysterious world, but there are lives in it. I want to deliver their sparkles.” – Koharu Sugawara (No Face, double-cast)
· “Ghibli films are a part of my life. I am hoping that I can become a part of someone else’s life through this play.” – Tomohiko Tsujimoto (No Face, double-cast)
Tsujimoto showed an improvisational dance inspired by the character at the press conference. After seeing his dance, Caird said, “I didn’t know how we’re going to do it (to show No Face on stage) until now. Now I know how to do it.”
· “I’ve seen every single Ghibli film. I still feel like I am in a dream. I need to calm down my excitement, but I am looking forward to be a part of the show.” – Miyu Sakihi (Lin/Chihiro’s mother, double-cast)
· “I am excited that I am going to be working under Ms. Natsuki and Ms. Park and going to take care of Kanna and Mone. I am ready!” – Fu Hinami (Lin/Chihiro’s mother, double-cast)
· “The historic stage of Imperial Theatre, a masterpiece with fans around the world, and John’s direction- I would like to make the most of this power triangle.” – Tomorowo Taguchi (Kamajî, double-cast)
· “John says, ‘let’s play’ to the actors, letting us play around. He is a very proficient director. I hope the audience will enjoy as much as we do. Please look forward to the number of arms I show on stage.” – Satoshi Hashimoto (Kamajî, double-cast)
· “When I voiced for the original film, I thought the role was a villain and I was prepared to act accordingly. But director Miyazaki said ‘Yubaba is putting all her efforts to protect the bathhouse. She is not a villain.’ It felt very emotional. I never thought that I would be playing the same role on stage two decades later. Just like Kanna, I would like to play like a debutante and enjoy this stage version as a completely new one.” – Mari Natsuki (Yubaba/Zeniba, double-cast)
Natsuki has been good friends with Caird since she played Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables in 1997 and 1998, which he adapted and directed.
· “I was given courage to take this role when I was told that I can try out a lot of ways to express because the play itself shows so many faces. I am going to dive in the bathtub in Imperial Theatre.” – Romi Park (Yubaba/Zeniba, double-cast)
· “John always treats actors equally regardless of their age or career. I’m honored to be working with him.” – Kenya Osumi (Aniyaku/Chihiro’s Father)
To close out the press conference, Caird was asked about how he is going to make No Face happen on stage. The audience broke into laughter when John answered, “do you really think I am going to tell you?”
“SPIRITED AWAY” (original title: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)
Based on ”SPIRITED AWAY” directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Adapted and Directed by JOHN CAIRD
Produced by Toho Co., LTD. in association with Studio Ghibli Inc.
Dates and Venues:
March 2-29, 2022 (Previews on February 28 and March 1, 2022) at Imperial Theatre (Tokyo)
April 13-24, 2022 at Umeda Arts Theater (Osaka)
May 1-28, 2022 at Hakataza Theater (Fukuoka)
June 6-12, 2022 at Sapporo Cultural Arts Theater hitaru (Hokkaido)
June 22-July 4, 2022 at Misonoza Theater (Aichi)
Chihiro: Kanna Hashimoto/Mone Kamishiraishi
Haku: Kotarō Daigo /Hiroki Miura
No Face: Koharu Sugawara/Tomohiko Tsujimoto
Lin/Chihiro’s Mother: Miyu Sakihi/Fu Hinami
Kamajî: Tomorowo Taguchi/Satoshi Hashimoto
Yubaba/Zeniba: Mari Natsuki/Romi Park
Aniyaku/Chihiro’s Father: Kenya Osumi
Chichiyaku: Sunao Yoshimura
Based on ”SPIRITED AWAY” by Hayao Miyazaki
Adaptation and Direction: John Caird (Les Misérables, Nicholas Nickleby, Daddy Long Legs)
Co-Adaptation and Supporting Director:Maoko Imai (Knights’s Tale, Daddy Long Legs)
Original Score: Joe Hisaishi (My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke)
Music Supervision, Arrangements and Orchestrations: Brad Haak (An American in Paris)
Orchestrations: Conor Keelan (Estella Scrooge)
Set Design: Jon Bausor (Bat Out Of Hell)
Puppetry Design and Direction: Toby Olié (War Horse, Pinocchio)
Choreography: Shigehiro Ide (Fakespeare)
Lighting Design: Jiro Katsushiba
Sound Design: Koichi Yamamoto
Costume Design: Sachiko Nakahara
Hair and Makeup: Hiroaki Miyauchi
Video Design: Satoshi Kuriyama
Music Direction and Conductor: Erika Fukasawa
Stage Manager: Takashi Hojo
Assistant Directors: Makoto Nagai and Ryusei Onuki
Producer: Haruka Ogi