For the first time, one of Hayao Miyazaki's beloved animated movies is coming to the stage.

Studio Ghibli on stage? You better believe it.

Toho announced an upcoming theatrical production of Spirited Away on Thursday, marking the first-ever stage adaptation for one of Hayao Miyazaki's beloved animated films. John Caird, a longtime admirer of Spirited Away and a Tony Award-winning director with a background in the Royal Shakespeare Company, will write and direct the adaptation.

"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," Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki said in a statement. "I could tell how much he adores this story from his delighted face when I gave him a No-Face (Kaonashi) piggy-bank."

Spirited Away is a coming-of-age story centered on a young girl named Chihiro. She begins the story by moving to a new town with her parents, but when they stumble upon what looks like an abandoned village, her parents eat food meant for spirits and find themselves transformed into pigs and imprisoned by the witch Yubaba. Chihiro takes the name "Sen" and a job in Yubaba's bathhouse, where she will need all her wits in order to save her parents, return to the human world, and reclaim her true name.

Spirited Away
Credit: Studio Ghibli

The original Japanese title of Spirited Away is Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, and the stage production will seek to honor that duality by casting two different actresses in the lead role: Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi (Your Name).

"I have for many years now regarded Miyazaki Hayao as one of the pre-eminent geniuses of world cinema and the greatest ever proponent of the anime form," Caird said in a statement. "I share a belief in all the most dominant themes of Miyazaki's work, themes that are at the core of the Sen to Chihiro 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."

Caird continued, "the double casting in the part of Chihiro will give me the chance to work again with the brilliant and charming Kamishiraishi Mone, with whom I had such an exciting collaboration on Knights' Tale, and now affords me the same opportunity with the greatly talented, vivacious, and moving young actress Hashimoto Kanna."

Spirited Away will be presented next year at Toho's Imperial Theatre in Tokyo from February through March. The production will then tour to Osaka in April, Fukuoka in May, Sapporo in June, and Nagoya in June and July.

Sprited Away
Credit: ©2001 Studio Ghibli

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Spirited Away
  • Movie
  • 130 minutes

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