Spirited Away Stage Production Shares First Images

The spirits are coming to the stage! Toho Stage is collaborating with Studio Ghibli to adapt the 2001 fantasy film, Spirited Away, to a stage show. While the show is running in Tokyo, designer and puppeteer Toby Olié has shared a handful of shots from the production to his Twitter account.

Spirited Away (titled Sen to Chiro no Kamikakushi in Japanese) follows Chihiro, a little girl who finds herself trapped in the world of the spirits. After her parents are turned into pigs, Chihiro gives up her name and begins working in a bathhouse to keep them alive. The bathhouse is run by the witch Yubaba, who gives Chihiro the new name Sen in order to keep her under control. Meanwhile, Chihiro has friends in Haku, the dragon boy who helps her stay alive and remember herself. The film was highly praised by critics and audiences alike, earning numerous awards for its stunning visuals.


The show adaptation is directed by two-time Tony Award winner John Caird (Les Misérables, Nicholas Nickleby). He is also an honorary associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. According to The Hollywood ReporterToshio Suzuki stated that himself and the rest at Studio Ghibli (including the film’s director, Hayao Miyazaki) had faith in Caird’s abilities to adapt their story to the stage.

“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. ”

Related: Spirited Away & Alice in Wonderland: A Collective Comparison of Two Magical Films

Bringing Magic to the Stage

Spirited Away Stage Production from Toby Olie
Toby Oil

This is not the first time a film by Studio Ghibli has been brought to stage. In 2019, a kabuki stage adaptation of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind premiered. The show was based on director Hayao Miyazaki’s original manga and first independently produced feature film. What makes the kabuki show so notable is that Miyazaki’s film only adapted the first two volumes of his manga, while the kabuki show adapts the entire story. The show only ran for three weeks, but a recording was officially released on DVD and Blu-ray.

Meanwhile, with Spirited Away, things seem to be looking up. The show will continue running in Tokyo until March 29, 2022. Afterwards, it will start touring in various cities across Japan. From Tokyo, to Osaka, then Fukuoka in May, Sapporo through part of June, then Nagoya in the rest of June and July. Toho is hoping to bring the show to other parts of Asia and Europe, but that will probably depend on how successful it is on tour in its home country.

It’s always delightful to see stories become adapted in new, refreshing ways. The unforgettable designs of Spirited Away seem to adapt perfectly for the stage, along with its story of growth and determination. It looks like quite the magical experience to be able to see these performers live on stage, and with the team hoping to go as far as Europe perhaps extending the tour to America could be a possibility in the future.

Alternatively, with the Studio Ghibli theme park still in development, the thought of the show finding a permanent home at the park is not too far-fetched of an idea and could be one that Toho could consider! If you happen to find yourself in Japan, this truly looks like an unforgettable experience.

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