One of Studio Ghibli’s greatest films, Spirited Away, is about to receive a stage play adaptation!
As part a 90th anniversary celebration for Toho, the distributor for Spirited Away that also happens to be involved in live theater, it was decided that a stage production of the movie would be made. Helming the project is Canadian-born British stage director and playwright John Caird, who will handle both the script and direction for the project. Perhaps best known as a director for the original 1987 production of Les Misérables, Caird has worked extensively as a director for stage plays in Japan with Japanese actors.
Caird met in-person with both the legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki and veteran Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, asking for permission to go head with the play, which they granted.
Suzuki had this to say about Caird:
“John is a good guy. Miyazaki and I both like him. We gave him a No-Face coin bank, and he was very happy. I hope he’ll take good care of [Spirited Away protagonist Chihiro] as he raises her on the stage.”
Moreover, two actresses will share the role of Chihiro in this play. One half of the duo will be 22-year-old Kanna Hashimoto, idol singer-turned-actress whose resume includes several roles in live-action TV drama and movie adaptations of anime, such as Gintama, Kingdom, and Assassination Classroom. The other actress stepping into Chihiro’s role will be 23-year-old Mone Kamishiraishi, a singer and actress who was part of the cast for Caird’s Knight’s Tale.
Caird seems deeply respectful of Spirited Away’s cultural significance, saying he is “excited and honored” to be entrusted with the project, expressing his longtime admiration for the original with “I have spent a thousand hours with Spirited Away, and I’m looking forward to spending thousands more with it” (referencing how the “Chi” part of Chihiro’s name means “thousand” in Japanese).
The Spirited Away stage play is set to premiere at Tokyo’s Imperial Theater in February of 2022, move to Osaka in April, Fukuoka in March, Sapporo in early June, and then arrive in Nagoya for late June and July. Toho has also shown interest in having overseas performances, though not much else can be confirmed at this time. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can check out the play’s official website here.