Stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli film gears up for its first performances outside Japan.

It’s not unusual for stage plays to have relatively sort life spans in Japan. Among other things, there’s often a lot of overlap between casting for theater, TV drama, movie and variety show productions, meaning that top-tier talent is often on somewhat borrowed time until the next big, lucrative on-camera offer comes in.

But the stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli anime Spirited Away is proving to be an exception. Immediately after its 2022 premier in Tokyo, positive reviews started rolling in. Not only have the show’s stars stuck around, as Spirited Away gears up for the beginning of its biggest tour yet, the lead role’s roster of actresses has expanded, with the two newest having now appeared in costume for the first time.

Since its beginning, the Spirited Away stage show has used what’s called a “double cast” system for the role of protagonist Chihiro, in which two different actresses portray the character on different days, but without either being designated as the regular performer or understudy. The new pair of actresses sharing Chihiro’s role are Rina Kawaei, formerly a member of idol singer unit AKB48, and Momoko Fukuchi.

With the addition of Kawaei and Fukuchi, the character’s part becomes a double-double cast, as the stage production’s two original Chihiros, Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi, will both be continuing to play her as well.

▼ Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi

▼ Left to right: Hashimoto, Kamishiraishi, Kawaei, and Fukuchi

Which actress will be playing Chihiro on which days has yet to be publicly announced, but Spirited Away’s upcoming tour starts on March 11 at Tokyo’s Imperial Theater, where it will run until March 30. After that performances are slated for Nagoya in April, Fukuoka in April and May, Osaka in May and June, and Sapporo in June. This year will also be the first time ever for the Spirited Away play to be performed outside Japan, as it’ll be coming to the London Coliseum from April to August, overlapping with its Japan dates, something it can do thanks to the expanded cast.

Related: Spirited Away stage play official website
Source: Spirited Away stage play official website
Top image: Spirited Away stage play official website
Insert images: Spirited Away stage play official website (1, 2)
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