My Neighbour Totoro

This autumn, Joe Hisaishi and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s landmark new adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s 1988 animated film My Neighbour Tororo will have its global premiere live on stage at London’s Barbican in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV. Featuring the film’s original score by Joe Hisaishi, the enchanting story follows one extraordinary summer in the lives of sisters Satsuki and Mei as they are transported to a long-forgotten realm of spirits, sprites and natural wonder. LOEWE is a proud sponsor of this new adaptation, having first collaborated with Studio Ghibli in 2021 with a capsule collection based on the original film.

Discover the artistry and skills that go into creating the puppets featured in My Neighbour Totoro in this short film created by the RSC, featuring award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist, who has designed the puppetry for the production.

In this short film created by the RSC, discover the stories behind the costumes for My Neighbour Totoro, from the carefully calibrated aesthetic of the production and the meticulous dying processes used to finesse each character’s look. Featuring Kimie Nakano, Costume Designer for the production.


Crafted for the stage

Bringing the story to life is production designer Tom Pye, whose award-winning work as a set and costume designer has spanned theatre, film, opera and television and collaborations with companies including the English National Opera and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. In an exclusive interview, Pye discusses his meticulous research process and the diligent craftsmanship that goes into turning an iconic animated film into a box-office record-breaking stage production.

Bringing an icon to life

Harnessing the artistry and charm of the original film was central to production designer Tom Pye’s vision for the musical. “One of the first things I did was buy a beautiful book which contained Studio Ghibli’s initial sketches, with so much of the same detail that you see in the film. This handmade aesthetic really underpins our whole approach to everything. Whilst the reality of producing a show is highly technical, we want the audience to feel the stage is handcrafted.”

One of the backdrops used in the show.

Much like the film, craftsmanship lies at the heart of the stage production. “I looked at Japanese house construction and I was inspired by the importance of natural elements, like wood and paper. Along with Japanese craft like Shou Sugi Ban, I combined these elements with the skills I’ve picked up from European set construction. For example, I didn't want the house to look like a painted piece of scenery. Instead, we sourced beautiful French oak and made a really thin veneer so the house looks like it's made of solid, real wood. A lot of my approach is led by the idea of material quality. When the audience walk into the theatre, I want them to be unsure of what the production and scenography is going to be like.”

Dan McDonald, the Assistant Project Manager works on the set of the house.

My Neighbour Totoro rehearsal photos, August 2022, photos by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC