September 7 - October 13
The new world premiere musical adaptation of "The Jungle Book," wholly reimagined for the stage by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman and produced in association with The Goodman Theatre, comes to Boston's Huntington Theatre on September 7. The production has already extended its original run by popular demand to play through October 13. (The production premiered at The Goodman in June where it was called “brilliantly rendered” by the Chicago Sun-Times.)
Based on Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling’s 1893 collection of stories set in the Indian jungle and Walt Disney’s 1967 animated film, Zimmerman’s adaptation of "The Jungle Book" is a music-and movement-filled adventure of young Mowgli’s coming-of-age in the animal kingdom.
Legendary Academy Award and Grammy winner Richard M. Sherman is collaborating on this production, providing Doug Peck (Music Director, Piano, and Harmonium) access and permission to adapt the beloved songs that Sherman and his brother, Robert, wrote for the film, unused songs written for the film, plus new lyrics written for this production.
The Sherman Brothers' many honors include two Academy Awards ("Mary Poppins"), nine Academy Award nominations, three Grammy Awards, 24 gold-platinum albums, a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Their Disney film credits include "The Jungle Book," "The Parent Trap," "Bedknobs & Broomsticks," "Winnie the Pooh," "The Aristocats," and "The Tigger Movie." Beyond the Disney family, their film scores include "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Tom Sawyer," "The Slipper and the Rose," "Charlotte’s Web" and "Beverly Hills Cop 3." Their stage credits include "Over Here!," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Busker Alley," and "Mary Poppins."
Peck, who attended two music festivals while in India to explore the country’s Northern Classical-Hindustani and Southern Classical-Carnatic traditions, commented, “Favorites like ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘Trust in Me’ will make great appearances. 'Colonel Hathi’ will probably feel like a musical-dance highlight -- one of the biggest moments -- and ‘Baloo's Blues’ will be the debut of a new piece of material. The all-new orchestration includes a blend of Western instruments (piano, bass, drums, trumpet, trombone, tuba, flute, clarinet, saxophone) and traditional Indian instruments (harmonium, sitar, veena, tablas, tanpura, ghatam, Carnatic violin).
The production’s 18-member cast will include:
• Ten-year-old Akash Chopra as Mowgli, the young, spunky, and stubborn boy.
• Usman Ally as Bagheera, the wise old panther who is serious about the rules of life and the laws of the jungle.
• Anjali Bhimani as Raksha, the warm, fawning Mother Wolf.
• Kevin Carolan as Baloo the bear, the carefree and irresponsible tutor to Mowgli.
• Glory Curda as the Little Girl.
• Boston's own Thomas Derrah as Kaa, the sinewy, serpentine sly-but-charming villain.
• André De Shields as King Louie, the ambitious-but-scattered, comic, dreaming orangutan.
• Nehal Joshi as Rama, a wolf leader.
• Larry Yando as Shere Khan the tiger, the crafty, powerful and dangerous arch-villain.
An ensemble of actors, dancers and singers, creating Kipling’s “people of the jungle” -- vultures, monkeys, elephants, wolves, and more -- will include Jeremy Duvall, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Monique Haley, Ed Kross, Govind Kumar, Alka Nayyar, Geoff Packard, Timothy Wilson, and Victor Wisehart.
Adaptor and director Zimmerman, whose 2011 production of "Candide" was the Huntington’s highest grossing musical in its 31-year history, commented, “I’m absolutely thrilled to be returning to Boston and the to Huntington. I love the theatre and its audience. Our challenge with this adaptation is to combine the profundity, beauty, and even strangeness of Kipling’s stories with the spirit and music of the film, which is all joy, joy, joy. I’m incredibly excited to work with this wildly talented ensemble of actors, singers, and dancers to create the world of the play. It is always joyful to reunite with many of my longtime collaborators, but it is also thrilling to add so many new voices into the fold.”
Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Broadway’s "Newsies") will work with choreographer-dancer Hema Rajagopalan, (founder and artistic director of Chicago’s Natya Dance Theatre) to combine elements of classical Indian dance forms with jazz, tap, and other types of movement to enhance the storytelling.
Collaborating with Zimmerman for the first time, André De Shields remarked, “I experienced 'Metamorphoses' on Broadway in 2002, and was psychologically, emotionally, and physically mesmerized by the ease of the director's ability to use the myths of the realm of the gods to decode the sometimes paralyzing riddles of the human condition. I sat entranced and thought, ‘I must work with this director.’ That director was Mary Zimmerman. And now with 'The Jungle Book,' I am excited about the possibility of achieving something similar by using the myths of the natural world.”
"The Jungle Book" is produced by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, which proudly supports Zimmerman's development of this title, providing financial support, creative consultation, and access to song material never before heard onstage.
Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions, said “Working with Mary Zimmerman as she and her astonishing team begin to bring the show to life has been a joy. As this cast of world-class stage actors proves, she has always attracted the very best theatre collaborators and we cannot wait to see what they’ll conjure.”
For tickets and information, stop by the Huntington box office at 264 Huntington Avenue in Boston, call 617-266-0800 or visit huntingtontheatre.org.
-- OnStage Boston
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