JIM Henson’s Creature Shop is creating the puppets for the RSC’s production of My Neighbour Totoro which opens at the Barbican later this year.
The shop, based in Los Angeles, has produced some of the world’s best-loved characters from The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and Sesame Street.
Now it is working its magic to bring puppetry to the RSC stage in its production based on the 1988 Studio Ghibil animated feature film by Hayao Miyazaki, who also created Spirited Away.
The RSC’s production has been written by playwright Tom Morton-Smith in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV.
The puppets for My Neighbour Totoro have been designed by international award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist.
While Mervyn Millar, who designed the puppetry for the RSC’s recent acclaimed production of The Magician’s Elephant, will create additional puppets in their UK-based workshop.
Puppet master Mr Twist said: “I feel an immense responsibility to bring the iconic characters of My Neighbour Totoro to life on stage. I want to honour these characters and capture the enchanting mystery of this beloved story. I want audiences to be inspired by the same feeling they get from the film when they meet Totoro on stage so I chose to bring in the team at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to make sure we get it right.
“The Jim Henson Company is synonymous with imagination and childhood. I have been building puppets since I was a boy, and to me there is nothing more magical than when a seemingly inanimate object comes to life before your eyes. I have worked with the team at the Shop over the course of my career so when I accepted this challenge and needed a team who could build my designs and bring Studio Ghibil’s treasured characters to life, I knew it had to be Henson. I truly believe we are creating something extraordinary”.
My Neighbour Totoro will play a 15-week season at the Barbican from October 8 to January 21. There have been calls for the show to come to Stratford but no further dates have been announced yet.