It’s a whole new way to experience a Hayao Miyazaki movie. Actually, it’s not a movie at all.

Spirited Away, one of Studio Ghibli’s most popular films, is getting the stage treatment. Toho announced an upcoming theatrical production of the movie this week. It will be the first Miyazaki film to ever be adapted for the stage.

Tony Award-winning director John Caird will write and direct the adaptation. Caird has a background in the Royal Shakespeare Company and has also been a longtime Miyazaki fan.

“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.”

Spirited Away (original Japanese title Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) tells the story of a young girl Chihiro’s coming-of-age experience. When her parents eat food meant for the spirits, they’re transformed into pigs and imprisoned by the witch Yubaba. To rescue them, Chihiro takes the name “Sen” and gets a job working in Yubaba’s bathhouse for spirits. She needs all her wits (and a few friends) to save her parents, return to the human world, and reclaim her name.

Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki expressed excitement to see Caird bring Spirited Away to theatre.

“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 Suzuki. “I could tell how much he adores this story from his delighted face when I gave him a No-Face (Kaonashi) piggy-bank.”

The stage production also plans to honor the duality of Chihiro’s identity by casting two different actors in the lead role, Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi (Your Name).

Spirited Away theatre poster
via Studio Ghibli

Spirited Away opens at Toho’s Imperial Theatre in Tokyo, running February through March 2022. The production will then go on tour, airing in Osaka in April, Fukuoka in May, Sapporo in June, and Nagoya in June and July.

Source: Entertainment Weekly