Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to create puppets for global stage premiere of ‘My Neighbour Totoro’

Executive Producer Joe Hisaishi and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have announced that leading innovator in puppetry, animatronics, and digital animation, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, will create the puppets for the global stage premiere of Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbour Totoro, opening at the Barbican on Saturday 8 October 2022.

The puppets, designed by international award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist (Symphonie Fantastique) are currently being built at the LA location of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the legendary workshop of The Jim Henson Company.

The Shop has an iconic history, producing some of the world’s best loved characters from The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Sesame Street.

Mervyn Millar, director of Significant Object (War Horse) who designed the puppetry for the RSC’s recent acclaimed production of The Magician’s Elephant, will create additional puppets in their UK based workshop.

Performed on the Barbican’s iconic stage, My Neighbour Totoro will play a 15-week season from Saturday 8 October 2022 to Saturday 21 January 2023.

The celebrated 1988 animated feature film by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) will be brought to the stage by its original composer Joe Hisaishi in a landmark new adaptation by the RSC (Matilda The Musical) written by playwright Tom Morton-Smith (Oppenheimer) in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV.

Directed by Phelim McDermott with production design by Tom Pye, costumes by Kimie Nakano, lighting by Jessica Hung Han Yun, and movement by You-Ri Yamanaka, the production will feature puppetry created by Basil Twist and music from Joe Hisaishi’s iconic score in a new orchestration by Will Stuart, performed live with sound design by Tony Gayle. Associate Director is Ailin Conant.

Artwork for the stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro includes a hand drawn title by Toshio Suzuki, Producer for Studio Ghibli, who was involved in the planning and production of the original animated film.

Casting for the production to be announced soon.

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