Live-action ‘Spirited Away’ play shows incredible artistry in Tokyo premiere

Studio Ghibli Spirited Away live action play
  • Tokyo’s Imperial Theater premiered a live-action play of Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away” this week, one year after the project’s announcement in Feb. 2021.
  • The official Twitter page of Astage released promotional photos from the play, showing off the incredible artistry of the designers behind the production.
  • Some of the cast members include Japanese actress Kanna Hashimoto, who plays Chihiro, and Mari Natsuki, who plays Yubaba after having voiced the character in the original animated film.
  • The cast members expressed their excitement for the premiere of the live-action stage adaptation and described working on set as “being in a theme park”.

After a year of waiting since the initial announcement of the project,  fans finally got to see the live-action stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away” this week at its premiere at Tokyo’s Imperial Theater.

In a series of promotional photos released by Astage on their official Twitter page, fans got to see glimpses of the live-action stage adaption, which features surreal set designs and vibrant costumes that reflect those seen in the original 2001 animated film. 

The play utilized a “double cast” system seen in the Japanese theater industry, meaning two performers share one role by taking turns on different days. The role of Chihiro was shared by Japanese actresses Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, while the role of Yubaba is shared by Mari Natsuki, who voiced Yuababa in the original animated film, and anime voice actress Romi Park.

While speaking with reporters at Jiji Press, Kamishiraishi said that working on set required significant physical demand but that her love for the original film motivated her to get through challenging obstacles.

“The amount of physical activity Chihiro does during the play is no joke. I have to run so much that there were times when I thought, ‘I just can’t do this!’” Kamishiraishi told reporters. “I watch the original anime so many times. It’s such a wonderful work, and that motivated me when I was feeling discouraged, but it’s a high hurdle trying to live up to that quality. I was very nervous, but seeing how things have turned out, I feel relieved.” 

Cast member Natsuki described working on set as “being in a theme park” and praised the live-action play for its quality.

“It felt like being in a theme park. Even in the middle of performing, there were parts where I found myself thinking ‘This is so much fun!’” she told Jiji Press. 

Featured Image via JIJIPRESS/時事通信芸能動画ニュース

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