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Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to make puppets for ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ play

Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the company that makes The Muppets and Sesame Street characters, is collaborating with Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company to build life-size puppets for the upcoming live-stage production of Hayao Miyazaki’s famous animated film My Neighbor Totoro.

The RSC claims that the said project is the most ambitious project to date — even more so than the award-winning theater company’s original productions of Les Miserables and Matilda the Musical. “My Neighbor Totoro now has creatives working on it at bases in London, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Los Angeles, and Tokyo.”

The appearance of the puppets being produced at the Creature Shop is based on the designs created by Basil Twist, one of UK’s most creative puppeteers. Other puppets for My Neighbour Totoro will be made by Mervyn Millar from Britain’s cutting-edge Significant Object puppet studio. Per Vulture, two giant puppets will be featured in the stageplay — Totoro and the iconic flying cat bus.

my neighbor totoro, creature shop my neighbor totoro
Image via IMDb

“We know all too well the importance of maintaining the visual style and personality of beloved characters,” said Peter Brooke, the creative supervisor of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, in a statement about My Neighbor Totoro. “Whether an audience member is a longtime fan of this iconic story or new to Miyazaki’s fantastical world, they will be simply amazed when they see these magical creatures live on stage in a whole new way in My Neighbour Totoro.”

Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is a Los Angeles-based animatronics and visual effects studio best known for building The Muppets and Sesame Street characters. The company was founded in the ’70s by Jim Henson, who was also the creator of The Muppets. After Jim Henson passed away in 1990, his son Brian took over the business.

My Neighbor Totoro tells the coming-of-age story of two young sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who moved to the countryside where they met their big furry friend, Totoro, and the giant cat bus.
The live stage play will premiere at London’s Barbican Centre on October 8, 2022, and will run until January 21, 2023.


Other POP! stories you might like:

Grandparents surprise grandkids with a handmade replica of Totoro bus stop

Here’s the truth behind the Studio Ghibli and Pixar artwork photo

Japan is crowdfunding to preserve forest that inspired ‘My Neighbor Totoro’

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