It was recently confirmed that the Japanese stage adaptation of Spirited Away (2003), the widely popular animated film from Studio Ghibli, will soon be making its way over to the West End. Written and directed by John Caird, Spirited Away (2022) enjoyed its worldwide debut in Tokyo, Japan in 2002, and will soon be heading over to the London Coliseum for a "strictly limited season" between April and July, 2024.
Per Express.co.uk, Caird said in a statement, "I am proud and delighted to present the original Japanese stage production of Spirited Away at the Coliseum Theatre next year. We had a wonderful time creating the show in 2022 and I'm so happy now to be spiriting away a British audience into Hayao Miyazaki's magical world. A world of gods and frogs, dragons and sorcerers, giant-sized babies and bouncing heads, spider-armed boilermen, no-faced loners and a young girl's valiant quest for courage, identity and love."
The producer of Studio Ghibli, Toshio Suzuki, added: "The day we first met John Caird, Hayao Miyazaki and I thought he was the perfect director for the production - that was the beginning of this project. It was thanks to the hard work of John, the cast, and all those involved that the premiere production received such high acclaim. I wish to express my deepest respect to all involved in the creation of this monumental piece of theatre. I really look forward to Spirited Away being enjoyed by audiences in London."
While the show is not a musical (neither is the 2003 film), it does bring the film's fantastical elements - mainly its otherworldly characters and the spirits' "bath house" - to life, courtesy of puppet director Toby Olié. Chihiro, the film and the show's main protagonist, is played by Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, who will both be heading over to the UK for the show's limited run.
Check out the official trailer for the production here.
However, if the show proves to be popular in the West End (and why shouldn't it, as shows such as Back to the Future: The Musical and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child continue to sell out, years on), could we be seeing more from Spirited Away, and perhaps even the rest of Studio Ghibli's extensive catalogue of animated fantasy films, here in the UK?
As per the official Studio Ghibli website, here’s the synopsis for Spirited Away:
Chihiro thinks she is on another boring trip with her parents. But when they stop at a village that is not all that it seems, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, and Chihiro is whisked into a world of fantastic spirits, shape-shifting dragons and a witch who never wants to see her leave.
She must call on the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world.
The second biggest box office hit of all time in Japan, Spirited Away helped redefine the possibilities of animation for Western audiences and a generation of new filmmakers.
Combining Japanese mythology with Alice in Wonderland-type whimsy, Spirited Away cemented Miyazaki’s reputation as an icon of animation and storytelling.
The themed land Ghibli Park is exclusive to Aichi, Japan, but that could change as the years go on. If it were to find its way overseas, it's more than likely to head over to the States before anywhere else, which is home to some of the biggest theme parks on the planet (Universal Studios, Disney World, Disneyland). But there's every possibility that the UK, which is lacking in the larger theme parks department, save for the likes of Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, could end up having its own version of Ghibli Park.
But this all really hinges upon just how popular Spirited Away proves to be.
For dates and showtimes, be sure to visit the official website.