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World premiere of My Neighbour Totoro stage adaptation breaks Barbican box office record

An illustration of the Totoro character with green watercolour washes of paint. Inside Totoro's face is the silhouette of two small characters holding a red umbrella.

Executive Producer Joe Hisaishi and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)’s world premiere of the stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbour Totoro breaks Barbican box office record for ticket sales in a single day.

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Following the opening of public booking on Thursday 19 May 2022, the world premiere of the stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro has broken the Barbican box office record for ticket sales in one day. The record had previously been held by Sonia Friedman Production’s 2015 production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role.

Griselda Yorke, RSC Executive Producer said:

We are delighted that the RSC has broken the Barbican’s box office record for ticket sales in a day. It is fantastic to see audiences returning to theatre and booking with confidence following the last two years of uncertainty and it is equally brilliant to see so many young audiences booking through our TikTok £10 Tickets scheme. My Neighbour Totoro is a truly universal story, and we cannot wait to welcome audiences to enjoy our show.”

Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre and Dance at the Barbican said:

“We’re absolutely blown away by the response from the public to tickets going on general sale for the RSC’s stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro yesterday. We knew that this ambitious international collaboration would be an exciting prospect, and for so many tickets to be sold in one day is truly tremendous. We can’t wait to present this stunning show in our theatre this autumn to audiences so obviously keen to be part of the Studio Ghibli phenomenon.”

The production, presented by Executive Producer Joe Hisaishi together with the RSC, will be performed on the Barbican’s iconic stage for a 15-week season from Saturday 8 October 2022 – Saturday 21 January 2023 with press night on Tuesday 18 October 2022.

The celebrated 1988 animated feature film by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) will be brought to the stage by its original composer Joe Hisaishi in a landmark new adaptation by the RSC (Matilda The Musical) written by playwright Tom Morton-Smith (Oppenheimer) in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV.

Directed by Phelim McDermott with production design by Tom Pye, costumes by Kimie Nakano, lighting by Jessica Hung Han Yun, and movement by You-Ri Yamanaka, the production will feature puppetry created by Basil Twist and music from Joe Hisaishi’s iconic score in a new orchestration by Will Stuart, performed live with sound design by Tony Gayle. Associate Director is Ailin Conant. Artwork for the stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro includes a hand drawn title by Toshio Suzuki, Producer for Studio Ghibli, who was involved in the planning and production of the original animated film. Casting for the production to be announced soon.

The production is supported by Spanish Luxury House LOEWE, the Headline Sponsor of My Neighbour Totoro, whose connection with Studio Ghibli began in 2021 with the creation of a capsule collection inspired by the original animated film.


This enchanting coming-of-age story explores the magical fantasy world of childhood and the transformative power of imagination, as it follows one extraordinary summer in the lives of sisters Satsuki and Mei.

In order to be closer to their mother while she recovers from an illness in a rural convalescent hospital, their father moves the family to the countryside. As the girls explore their beautiful new surroundings, Mei encounters magical creatures and the ancient protector of the forest she calls Totoro.

Although Satsuki doesn’t believe her little sister at first, they are soon both swept up in exciting adventures with their new neighbours – transported to a long-forgotten realm of spirits, sprites, and natural wonder.