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GKIDS Acquires North American Distribution Rights to Filmed Performances of ‘Spirited Away: Live On Stage’

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The First-Ever Stage Production of Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award®-Winning Masterpiece | Directed and Adapted by Tony Award®-Winner John Caird (Les Misérables)

Press release:

NEW YORK (February 8, 2023) – GKIDS, the acclaimed producer and distributor of animation for adult and family audiences, announced that it has acquired the North American audiovisual distribution rights for SPIRITED AWAY: Live On Stage, filmed during the hit production’s 2022 run at the historic Imperial Theatre in Tokyo, Japan. The stage play is based on Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award®-winning animated feature and is adapted and directed for the stage by Tony Award®-winner John Caird, Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who gained international acclaim for adapting and directing the world premiere of the landmark production Les Misérables.

GKIDS will release two separate filmed performances of the production, starring Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, double-cast as the lead heroine Chihiro. Character actor Mari Natsuki, who voiced the sorceress Yubaba and her twin sister Zeniba in the original motion picture, returns to her original role, accompanied by voice actor Romi Park. They are accompanied by a star-studded cast of Japan’s finest actors.

SPIRITED AWAY: Live On Stage was created in association with Studio Ghibli, and presented by Toho Co., Ltd. The deal was negotiated between GKIDS and Toho.

GKIDS will release the stage production theatrically in spring 2023.

“We are thrilled to offer this unique opportunity for Studio Ghibli fans in America to experience the stage production that wowed Japanese press and audiences last year,” said GKIDS’ President David Jesteadt. “This imaginative stage adaptation by the legendary John Caird, featuring two wonderful performances by lead actors Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, helps bring to life one of the greatest films of all time in a dazzling new way.”

Based on Spirited Away directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Adapted and Directed by John Caird

Co-adapted by Maoko Imai

Original Score by Joe Hisaishi

Musical Supervision, Orchestrations and Arrangements by Brad Haak

Associate Music Supervision, Orchestrations and Ableton Programming by Conor Keelan

Set Designer: Jon Bausor

Puppetry Design and Direction: Toby Olié

Choreographer/Staging: Shigehiro Ide

Lighting Designer: Jiro Katsushiba

Sound Designer: Koichi Yamamoto

Costume Designer: Sachiko Nakahara

Hair and Make Up: Designer Hiroaki Miyauchi

Projection Designer: Satoshi Kuriyama

Music Director/Conductor: Erika Fukasawa

Stage Manager: Takashi Hojo

Assistant to the Director: Maoko Imai

Assistant Directors: Makoto Nagai/Ryusei Onuki

Producer: Haruka Ogi

In association with Studio Ghibli

Presented by Toho Co., Ltd.


Chihiro: Kanna Hashimoto/Mone Kamishiraishi

Haku: Kotaro Daigo /Hiroki Miura

No Face: Koharu Sugawara/Tomohiko Tsujimoto

Lin/Chihiro’s Mother: Miyu Sakihi/Fu Hinami

Kamaji: Tomorowo Taguchi/Satoshi Hashimoto

Yubaba/Zeniba: Mari Natsuki/Romi Park

Aniyaku/Chihiro’s Father: Kenya Osumi

Chichiyaku: Sunao Yoshimura

Aogaeru: Obata no Oniisan

Introduction and Synopsis

Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award®-winning animated feature film comes to life in this first-ever stage adaptation, full of dazzling sets, captivating musical numbers, and wondrous puppets of beloved characters. Adapted and directed by Tony Award®-winner John Caird (Les Misérables), two unique casts and performances were filmed during the show’s acclaimed 2022 run at Tokyo’s historic Imperial Theatre, featuring Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi as Chihiro.

While traveling to their new home, Chihiro and her family stumble into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the sorceress Yubaba. When her parents are turned into pigs and she is put to work in a magical bathhouse, Chihiro must use her wits to survive in this strange new place, find a way to free her parents, and return to the normal world.


GKIDS is the producer and distributor of award-winning feature animation for both adult and family audiences. Since 2010, the company has scored an astounding 12 Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations with The Secret of Kells in 2010, A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita in 2012, Ernest & Celestine in 2014, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and Song of the Sea in 2015, Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There in 2016, My Life as a Zucchini in 2017, The Breadwinner in 2018, Mirai in 2019, and Wolfwalkers in 2021. GKIDS handles North American distribution for the famed Studio Ghibli library of films, one of the world’s most coveted animation collections with titles Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and others; as well as the critically acclaimed television series, NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. Also, GKIDS is the founder and host of ANIMATION IS FILM, the annual LA-based film festival which embraces the highest aspirations of animation as a cinematic art form, and is a vocal advocate for filmmakers who push the boundaries of the medium to its fullest range of artistic expressions.

About Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli is one of the most acclaimed and influential animation studios in the world, inspiring filmmakers and audiences alike over the last 30 years with beloved stories and breathtaking visuals. Under the brilliance of visionary animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki, the studio’s films are known for timeless classics such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Ponyo; and have won countless international awards including an Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature for Spirited Away, as well as five additional Oscar® nominations for Howl’s Moving Castle, The Wind Rises, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There, and The Red Turtle. Director and studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki was separately given an Honorary Award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards in 2014, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures paid tribute to his artwork with a special exhibit when the Museum opened in September 2021.

About Toho Co., Ltd.

Toho Co., Ltd. is a leading production company of theatre and film in Japan, internationally recognized for the Godzilla series and for Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces. Its theatrical department has presented numerous original and licensed musicals and plays in Japan, including Broadway and West End imports such as Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage Aux Folles, RENT, Jekyll & Hyde, Fun Home, Next to Normal, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Jersey Boys, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Ghost The Musical, Bullets Over Broadway, Waitress, The Producers, NEWSIES, Guys and Dolls among many others. In 2017, Toho presented a new production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It directed by Michael Mayer, music by Tom Kitt, choreography by Lorin Latarro.  Recently, Toho has co-produced the Broadway musical Tootsie.  Toho has also produced the Japanese versions of musicals from Central Europe, including Elisabeth, Mozart!, and Rebecca the Musical. Many original musicals and plays have been produced by Toho, including Marie Antoinette and Lady Bess with the creators of Elisabeth, book and lyrics by Michael Kunze and lyrics by Sylvester Levay, the musical adaptation of Roman Holiday, Crest of the Royal Family, music by Sylvester Levay, Your Lie in April, music by Frank Wildhorn, the original manga-based stage production of KINGDOM, and Knight’ Tale, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, book and directed by John Caird.  Other previous productions with John Caird include Les Misérables, Beggar’s Opera, Candide, Private Lives, Daddy Long Legs, and Twelfth Night.  Toho’s musical productions have been licensed internationally: Marie Antoinette was presented in Germany, Korea and Hungary, and Lady Bess was presented in Switzerland. Coming productions include Moulin Rouge! The Musical, the original manga-based stage production of SPY x FAMILY, and more. For more information, please visit: (Japanese only)

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