Cast appear on stage for the first time to give us a sneak peek at the upcoming production.

It’s been roughly four months since Studio Ghibli revealed the main cast for the stage adaptation of its 2001 animated feature film Spirited Away, and last night, fans were able to see the cast on stage together for the first time at a press conference at a hotel in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.

Ghibli producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki was present at the event, alongside Canadian-born English director John Caird, who was approved by Suzuki and Ghibli director and co-founder Hayao Miyazaki to direct the play. The last time the duo met Caird, they gave him a No-Face coin bank as a gesture of goodwill for taking care of their story during the stage adaptation.

▼ Caird and Suzuki

As is often the case with Japanese productions, the Spirited Away stage play will adopt a “W-cast” (“Double Cast”) system, which means each role is equally shared by two performers, and last night, all eyes were on the stars sharing the title role of Chihiro.

▼ Chihiro will be played by 22-year-old Kanna Hashimoto (left) and 23-year-old Mone Kamishiraishi, (right).

Hashimoto and Kamishiraishi could be seen standing front-and-centre on stage between Suzuki and Caird, whilst also appearing behind everyone at the same time, on two giant images showing them in costume as the main character.

▼ The first promotional images from the play feature Hashimoto dressed in the uniform worn by Chihiro at the bathhouse…

▼ …and Kamishiraishi in the outfit worn by Chihiro when she travels over the water by train to see Zeniba.

Both images are faithful to the film, beautifully replicating the look of the anime character. After the official images were unveiled to the press, even Kamishiraishi commented on how the photo makes her eyes look similar to Chihiro’s from the movie.

In a report by morning TV program Zip, Kamishiraishi and Hashimoto said they were surprised and delighted at being cast in the role, and Kamishiraishi added that she first watched the film when she was seven years old.

Kamishiraishi, who previously worked with Caird in his critically acclaimed musical Knight’s Tale, went on to say she’d like to give her all toher performance in Spirited Away, a work that has been “etched into people’s hearts“. And when she was asked what words of advice she had for Hashimoto, who’ll be making her stage debut in this production, she simply recommended she avoid overtiring herself.

▼ Take a look at the Zip report below.

The entire cast would do well to heed Kamishiraishi’s advice, as there’s not long left now before preview performances begin at Tokyo’s Imperial Theatre on 28 February, followed by runs in Osaka, Fukuoka, and Hokkaido in April, May, and June respectively.

Sources: Spirited Away stage play official website via Hachima Kikou 
Top image: Twitter/@JP_GHIBLI
Insert images: Spirited Away stage play official website

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