My Neighbor Totoro Stage Show To Use Puppets From Jim Henson's Creature Shop

No animated film has a hold over me like Hayao Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro." And if you've ever wanted to see life-size puppets of the characters come to life, here's good news for you!

For their stage adaptation of Miyazaki's classic 1988 film, Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company has teamed up with Jim Henson's Creature Shop animatronics and visual effects studio to bring the characters from "My Neighbor Totoro" to life (via Deadline). The stage adaptation will be using life-size puppets in order to add an interesting layer to the heartrending story which touches upon themes of growing up, finding magic in the mundane, and animism.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has produced some ambitious stage productions over the course of time, including fresh takes on classic Shakespearean works and high-budget productions of musicals such as "Les Miserables." The "My Neighbor Totoro" adaptation is probably the company's most ambitious project so far, as one can only imagine the meticulous attention to detail required for reimagining the film's beloved characters in puppet form.

'To-to-ro? You're Totoro!'

Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro" is, like all Studio Ghibli films, a visual feast, highlighting vibrant vignettes and beautiful natural terrains that enhance the film's setting. The story is set in 1950s Japan, and zeroes in on two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move to the countryside with their father. While waiting for their mother to make a speedy recovery in the hospital, the duo encounters many forest spirits, including a giant, fluffy creature called Totoro, who acts as their friend and protector throughout.

Per the report by Deadline, Jim Henson's Creature Shop is paying extra attention to the puppets of Totoro and the cat bus, as they play key roles in the narrative and capture the imagination of the two kids the most. The cat bus in the film flew Mei and Satsuki from one place to another, which made for a particularly magical sequence, and it is unclear how that aspect will be translated on the stage.

The mechanics of the puppets are based on the designs made by UK puppeteer Basil Twist, and the additional puppets (I hope they include the tiny, cute forest spirits!) will be handled by Mervyn Millar of Significant Object puppet studio. Additionally, the show will also feature music for the film that was never used, along with the classic score by composer Joe Hisaishi.

The "My Neighbor Totoro" stage adaptation will run from October 8, 2022, through January 21, 2023, at the Barbican Center in London.