Toho started in 1932, although they wouldn’t adopt the name Toho until 1943. Since their inception, the company has done numerous releases to mark their anniversary, sometimes with a single production but often times multiple. Ikiru (1952) marked Toho’s 20th anniversary. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) noted their 30th anniversary while King Kong Escapes (1967) carried their 35th anniversary banner. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), a “New Year’s film”, celebrated their 60th anniversary. Next year, 2022, marks Toho’s 90th anniversary. As part of this milestone, Toho is  celebrating not just on the big screen… but on the stage with a live theatrical adaptation of Spirited Away.

November 18th, 2021 update

On November 9th, Toho hosted a press conference in Tokyo, Japan.

Cast Photo for Spirited Away

(c) Toho Co., Ltd.

Centered around the theatrical stage production of Spirited Away, which is set to showcase in March of next year, the conference offered a view of the cast and crew of the show. This includes cast members Kanna Hashimoto, Mone Kamishiraishi and Mari Natsuki, along with writer and director John Caird, supporting director Maoko Imai and Studio Ghibli’s Toshio Suzuki, who produced Spirited Away (2001).

The show is set to kickoff at the Imperial Theatre in Marunouchi, Tokyo from March 2nd through the 29th, 2022. Additional dates and venues are set through to June 2022, ranging from the Umeda Arts Theater in Osaka to the Misonoza Theater in Aichi.

In addition to the press conference, Toho also issued a press release around the event and the stage performance. That is found below in full:

 

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 HashimotoMone 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.

Poster with Mone Kamishiraish and Kanna Hahimoto

(c) Toho Co., Ltd.

  • “I am nervous, but I am looking forward to working with and learning from everyone.” – Kotaro 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?”

Mone Kamishiraish & Kanna Hashimoto

Mone Kamishiraish & Kanna Hashimoto
(c) Toho Co., Ltd.

SHOW INFORMATION:

“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)

Cast:

Chihiro: Kanna Hashimoto/Mone Kamishiraishi
Haku: Kotaro 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
Aogaeru: Obatanooniisan

Creatives:

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

# # #

 

Toho Co., Ltd. is a leading production company of theatre and film in Japan, internationally recognized for the Godzilla series and for Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces. Its theatrical department has presented numerous original and licensed musicals and plays in Japan, including Broadway and West End imports such as Les Misérables, Miss SaigonMy Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage Aux Folles, RENT, Jekyll & Hyde, Fun Home, Next to NormalA Gentleman’s Guide to Love and MurderNatasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Jersey Boys, Beautiful The Carole King Musical, Waitress and The Producers among many others. Recently, Toho has co-produced the Broadway musical Tootsie. Toho has also produced the Japanese versions of musicals from Central Europe, including Elisabeth, Mozart!, and Rebecca the Musical. The company also collaborated to create the original musicals Marie Antoinette and Lady Bess with the creators of Elisabeth, Michael Kunze (book and lyrics) and Sylvester Levay (music). Marie Antoinette was licensed and presented in Germany, Korea and Hungary. In 2017, Toho presented a new production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It directed by Michael Mayer, music by Tom Kitt, choreography by Lorin Latarro. Previous productions with John Caird include Les Misérables, Beggar’s Opera, Candide, Private LivesDaddy Long Legs, Twelfth Night and Knights’ Tale.

SPRITED AWAY is a part of the programs celebrating the 90th anniversary of Toho Co., Ltd.  Please visit https://www.tohostage.com/spirited_away/ for more information.

 

February 26th, 2021 update

Like many locations the world over, 2020 saw movies being re-released in Japanese theaters to fill the void created by the slow down of new releases during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those that Toho distributed was Spirited Away (2001), reigniting a fascination with the movie and further swelling its box office returns as it remains one of the biggest box office hits in the country. Following up this success Toho is producing a theatrical stage version of Spirited Away. Directed by John Caird, of Les Misérables fame, the stage performance stars Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi sharing the main role of Chihiro.

The theatrical production is set to debut in February of 2022 at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo, Japan. It will then tour other locations in Japan that include Osaka (April), Fukuoka (May), Sapporo (June) and finally Nagoya (June and July).

Below is the original press release for this event as well as an English teaser poster that was released.


English Teaser Poster

©2001 Studio Ghibli・NDDTM


Toho Co., Ltd.

presents the world premiere stage production of

 

SPIRITED AWAY

(original title: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)

Based on the Oscar-winning film by HAYAO MIYAZAKI

(My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke)

Adapted and Directed by JOHN CAIRD

(Les MisérablesNicholas Nickleby, Daddy Long Legs)

 

Imperial Theatre (TOKYO, JAPAN)

FEBRUARY – MARCH, 2022

 

(Tokyo, Japan – February 26, 2021) – Toho Co., Ltd. is delighted to announce the world premiere of a new theatrical production based on Studio Ghibli’s Oscar-winning film SPIRITED AWAY (original title: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi). This production will be the first ever stage adaptation of the 2001 animated masterpiece by Hayao Miyazaki which became a massive box office hit in Japan and earned worldwide acclaim including Academy Award for Best Animated Feature of 2002. The Tony and Olivier Award-winning director and Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, John Caird (Les Misérables, Nicholas Nickleby, Daddy Long Legs), who has been an admirer of the film for years will write and direct the stage adaptation.

Chihiro, the heroine of the story, is a 10-year-old girl moving with her parents to their new home. They lose themselves 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 story of her struggle and resilience is a timeless gift to all of us, but especially to those striving to live through these present difficult times.

“I feel so excited and privileged to be working on the first ever stage adaptation of Sen to Chihiro.  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.

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.

I am looking forward with great pleasure to deepening my partnership with my dear friends at Toho through a new relationship with Studio Ghibli and Suzuki Toshi0, their most generous and inventive lead producer.

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.

I must have spent a thousand hours working on Sen to Chihiro and look forward to spending many thousands more.” said John Caird.

“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,” said Studio Ghibli’s Toshio Suzuki, the film producer of SPIRITED AWAY. “I could tell how much he adores this story from his delighted face when I gave him a No-Face (Kaonashi) piggy-bank.”

Chihiro will be double-cast by Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi. Kanna, who has starred and appeared in many films, will be making her long-awaited stage debut. Mone, known internationally for voicing in the film ‘Your Name’, has been delighting Japanese audiences with her versatile acting and singing talents.

SPIRITED AWAY will be presented at Toho’s Imperial Theatre located at 3-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo from February through March, 2022. The production will then tour to Osaka (April), Fukuoka (May), Sapporo (June), Nagoya (June and July).

 

Toho Co., Ltd. is a leading production company of theatre and film in Japan, internationally recognized for the Godzilla series and for Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces. Its theatrical department has presented numerous original and licensed musicals and plays in Japan, including Broadway and West End imports such as Les Misérables, Miss SaigonMy Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage Aux Folles, RENT, Jekyll & Hyde, Fun Home, Next to NormalA Gentleman’s Guide to Love and MurderNatasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Jersey Boys, Beautiful The Carole King Musical, Waitress and The Producers among many others. Recently, Toho has co-produced the Broadway musical Tootsie. Toho has also produced the Japanese versions of musicals from Central Europe, including Elisabeth, Mozart!, and Rebecca the Musical. The company also collaborated to create the original musicals Marie Antoinette and Lady Bess with the creators of Elisabeth, Michael Kunze (book and lyrics) and Sylvester Levay (music). Marie Antoinette was licensed and presented in Germany, Korea and Hungary. In 2017, Toho presented a new production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It directed by Michael Mayer, music by Tom Kitt, choreography by Lorin Latarro. Previous productions with John Caird include Les Misérables, Beggar’s Opera, Candide, Private LivesDaddy Long Legs, Twelfth Night and Knights’ Tale.

SPRITED AWAY is a part of the programs celebrating the 90th anniversary of Toho Co., Ltd.  Please visit https://www.tohostage.com/spirited_away/ for more information.