Former AKB48 idol group member Rina Kawaei (Ride Your Wave, live-action Ajin, left in images below) and actress Momoko Fukuchi (live-action Wasteful Days of High School Girl, right) will share the lead role of Chihiro with Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi when the stage play of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli‘s Spirited Away anime film returns next year.
Spirited Away: Live on Stage, will return in Tokyo in March, before going overseas to the London Coliseum from April to July. At the same time, it will also travel to Nagoya in April, Fukuoka from April to May, Osaka from May to June, and Sapporo in June.
All four actresses will star during the Tokyo run in alternating performances. The staff members already announced that Hashimoto and Kamishiraishi will star in the London run, but they are still determining precisely which actresses will star in which performances in the different cities in Japan and abroad.
The stage play debuted in Japan with two different sets of cast members last year. The play’s first run debuted at the Imperial Theatre from February to March 2022, then went on tour to Osaka in April, Fukuoka in May, Sapporo in June, and Nagoya in June and July for a total of 102 performances. Some Fukuoka performances of the stage play were canceled to Hashimoto being diagnosed with COVID-19, and similarly canceled some Nagoya performances due to Park, Kamishiraishi, and some staff and cast members also being infected with COVID-19.
The stage play just completed its August-13-26 run at the Misono-za Theatre in Nagoya. In that run, Hashimoto and Kamishiraishi reprised their shared Chihiro run.
Tony and Olivier Award-winning director and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Honorary Associate Director John Caird (Les Misérables, Nicholas Nickleby, Daddy Long Legs) wrote and directed the production.
GKIDS theatrically screened a recorded performance of both versions of the stage play. The version with Hashimoto screened in North America on April 23 and 25, and the version with Kamishiraishi screened on April 27 and May 2.
Spirited Away was previously the highest-grossing Japanese film worldwide until Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train surpassed the record. Spirited Away remains the only non-English-language title to win the Academy Awards’ Best Animated Feature award, which it earned in 2003.