Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Jungle Book. It was about a boy named Mowgli (Akash Chopra) and how he grows up in the jungle in India. It was at the Goodman Theater, and it was directed by Mary Zimmerman. This is a great show for kids and adults because it has a lot of funny elements and it is based on a book and a movie that a lot of children know at least one of them. It was a very very cool adaptation because it was not just the book or just the movie; it was both of them combined and they also added some cool songs.
I really liked it how in the set (designed by Daniel Ostling) they always had light (designed by T. J. Gerckens) shining on the red flower, which was not fire; it was actually just a red flower painted on the set. Just for people who don’t understand this when you go to the show, the red flower that Bagheera talks about is fire. But they use a bunch of flowers instead of actual fire when Shere Khan is dying. I met some adults that were very confused by that. I thought it was cool how a bed flew in and that was the treetops. But it might have been cool if they’d made it more like a tree. It took place, in the beginning, Mowgli opened the Jungle Book in his bedroom, so maybe Mowgli was trying to use his imagination in his bedroom and so he used his bed as the tree.
All the costumes (designed by Mara Blumenfeld) were awesome because they were so elaborate. And some of them were kind of anthropomorphic. If you don’t know what anthropomorphic means, you can learn it from me: ADA GREY! Anthropomorphic means a non-human or inanimate object that is wearing human clothes or doing stuff a human could do. Bagheera (Usman Ally) was wearing a turban, but he was still a panther. Baloo (Kevin Carolan) was kind of wearing a Slinky skirt, but he was still a bear. My favorite costumes were Baloo’s, the monkeys’, and Shere Khan’s (Larry Yando). The monkeys had beards that were super cute, and the tamarin monkeys are my favorite kind of monkeys. Shere Khan had ears and tail on his costume and it made him look kind of imaginary but also very elegant.
I thought they did a great job putting in dance. Some of it was Indian dancing and some of it was jazz; they mixed it together. I thought that when they dance they also added some funny things because one time in the King Louie (André De Shields) dance, “I Want to Be like You,” they threw an entire tea set all over. Nothing broke because I think it was rubber or plastic. I thought it was nice how Shere Khan and the Deer (Alka Nayyar) did a dance together called “Your Unexpected Friend” / “Your Unexpected END,” and at the end of the show the Deer guided him to reincarnation. I thought it was really cool at curtain call how Bagheera did rap dancing. I thought it was cool because he kind of wasn’t in character but it was fun to see Bagheera dancing when you would expect him not to do any kind of dancing at all.
I thought it was funny when Baloo was singing a blues song about missing Mowgli, but it was also kind of a sad song. You kind of felt sorry because he actually did miss Mowgli. Blues songs are usually about missing like your girlfriend or your boyfriend. But this is about missing a kid. NOT that Baloo the character thinks that Mowgli is his boyfriend! He was also eating honey while he was singing the song which made it rather like he was chewing, but also later he put his face into the honey pot and he was singing while his face was in it. I thought it was funny how he was singing into the pot. He sounded very echo-y. Mowgli wants to be like Baloo so much that he kind of takes the role of a fatherly figure to Mowgli. He is like a fun father and he teaches him how to be a bear.
I really liked Kaa (Thomas Derrah) the snake because he had so many different ways of being a snake. He was a puppet, but he was also just a bunch of other people holding balls, and then he was also different parts of him coming out of little different trap doors. I loved his song; it was called "Trust in Me," and he was hypnotizing Mowgli. I loved it when Bagheera held up the googles when Kaa hypnotized him.
I really liked King Louie's number where he sang this song called "I Wanna Be Like You." So they have taken Mowgli captive because they think he has the red flower, but he doesn't. I thought that King Louie was a very good singer because he could hold a note for a long time and sing very good falsetto. And the dancing was also amazing and the monkeys were running around everywhere, taking all of his bananas which King Louie gave Mowgli. I thought that this scene was really fun because everyone seemed like they were having a good time and it was also very funny.
Bagheera is like a strict father who is like, "this is what you have to do next, then this." Mowgli needs two kinds of fathers, really. A strict one and a fun one. The fun one is Baloo. It is just not possible for him to have a fun-loving and a strict father. It is possible to have a fun-loving and strict father, but Mowgli does not have that option. I think that it is good to have a fun-loving and strict father because sometimes you really need your kid to do something and sometimes you just want to have fun. Bagheera sometimes takes walks with Mowgli and that shows us that he is a very nice guy but he just wants the best for Mowgli. I thought it was really funny when they were walking and then they--instead of water for the show they had cut-up paper--stopped for water and Bagheera said "Have some water, Mowgli." And Mowgli drank it out of his hands, but he was more like burying his face in it, which was really funny. I loved how Mowgli was funny but he also made me understand what it felt like to be in Mowgli's situation. The Little Girl (Glory Curda) was also great; she was very good at singing, I thought.
People who would like this show are people who like elaborate anthropomorphic animals, fatherly figures, and bears singing the blues into honey. I think people should go see this show because it is funny, all the characters are likable (even Shere Khan who is the bad guy), and it has a lot of people's favorite parts from the movie. I think this show is for ages 3 and up.
Photos: Liz Lauren