My Neighbor Totoro Stage Play Wins 5 WhatsOnStage Awards – News

Play wins Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design, Best Direction, Best Musical Direction/Supervision

© Studio Ghibli, RSC and Nippon TV

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)’s stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli‘s and Hayao Miyazaki‘s 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro at London’s Barbican Centre won five awards at the theatrical WhatsOnStage Awards. The play won:

  • Best Set Design – Tom Pye and Basil Twist
  • Best Lighting Design – Jessica Hung Han Yun
  • Best Sound Design – Tony Gayle
  • Best Direction – Phelim McDermott
  • Best Musical Direction/Supervision – Bruce O’Neil and Matt Smith

The play was also nominated for:

  • Best Performer in a Play – Mei Mac
  • Best Video Design – Finn Ross and Andrea Scott
  • Best Graphic Design – Toshio Suzuki and Dewynters
  • Best New Play

The play received more nominations than any other stage productions, beating Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! at the Young Vic with eight nominations. Prima Facie won Best New Play.

My Neighbor Totoro had a 15-week run from its premiere on October 8, 2022 to January 21, 2023. It was presented by the RSC and Hayao Miyazaki‘s longtime composer Joe Hisaishi, who created the music for the original film and serves as the play’s executive producer. Tom Morton-Smith (Oppenheimer) adapted the story, and Phelim McDermott (Akhnaten) directed the production. The play was made in collaboration with the English theatre company Improbable and Japan’s Nippon TV.

Interviewed by the Deadline website, the director Phelim McDermott specified that two girls in the story are unlikely to be played by children. “We have to use performers who can do many things …puppetry, physical stuff, so there are choices to be made.” He also specified that the play would not be a musical in the strict sense, although there will be a band onstage playing live music.

McDermott also said that he was introduced to Joe Hisaishi in London six years ago by the composer Phillip Glass; Hisaishi wanted to discuss adapting My Neighbor Totoro for the stage. Writer Tom Morton-Smith met Hayao Miyazaki in Japan about the play, and Miyazaki asked Morton-Smith if he was a feminist. Morton-Smith said, “I said ‘yes’ and that was very important to him and that the girls are central.”

Morton-Smith said that he had permission “to expand on the beats (in the film) that are already there and show some scenes that aren’t in the film.”

The RSC describes the production on its website:

“This enchanting coming-of-age story explores the magical fantasy world of childhood and the transformative power of imagination, as it follows one extraordinary summer in the lives of sisters Satsuki and Mei.

My Neighbor Totoro will play a strictly limited 15-week season from 8 October 2022 – 21 January 2023 and promises to delight all generations.

The original anime film My Neighbor Totoro is the story of two young sisters, Mei and Satsuki, who move to the countryside and encounter Totoro, wonderful creatures which only children can see.

Source: WhatsOnStage Awards’ website (link 2)

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