Creative Cauldron’s Learning Theater presents its own adaptation of the popular tale, The Jungle Book. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name, the show centers around the man-cub, Mowgli, who is found and raised by wolves. Mowgli feels at home in the jungle with his friends and adopted family but a ferocious tiger, Shere Khan, has claimed Mowgli for his meal, and the wolf pack must decide what is best for everyone.
Cauldron’s creative team has done a magnificent job in making the classic their own, while also preserving the author’s original intent. The book adaptation was done by Ellen Selby (who also co-Directed with Laura Connors Hull), with Music by Matt Conner and Lyrics by Stephen Gregory Smith.
The score falls under the umbrella of teachings in Kipling’s work, which is riddled with morality and the blunt truth about the world (and the people in it), but does so with layered beats and rich harmonies, enhancing the jungle setting with an earthy and wild energy, while guiding the natural ebb and flow of the danger, comfort, and fear that the show explores.
Songs like “The Law of the Jungle” instill rule and order, while “Part of Our Pack” and “The Fire Inside You” serve more of an inspirational message. Then there are the fun, clever songs like “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” which serve as comic relief yet still prompt another lesson for Mowgli to absorb (i.e. do not judge a book by its cover).
The set, designed by Margie Jervis, is comprised of multiple platforms at varied levels and is accented by lighting (design by James Morrison) that replicates the sun or moon shining down through the jungle trees.
Jervis also designed costumes and props, which included magnificent headpieces made from wire mesh and cloth, to represent the animals.
The young artists do a magnificent job mimicking the movement of the animals they portray. They manipulate the headpieces, subtly tilt their heads, alter their postures, and exaggerate lumbering movements. There were monkeys, wolves, hyenas, birds, a rhino, and a snake, all brilliantly designed and executed to great effect.
Creative Cauldron’s Learning Theater productions, like The Jungle Book, allow for local young artists to practice and train their theater skills, while working alongside pros in the field. The students are involved in the production from the beginning and the result is an engaging performance with a professional quality.
Creative Cauldron’s newest production presents an old tale in a fresh new light. Kipling’s story takes Mowgli through his adventures and guides the character to wisdom and teachings about bravery, following rules, trustworthiness, loyalty, and how to navigate the complications and contradictions that life creates. These lessons and attributes will always be useful to audiences, and they continue to stay relevant with this new interpretation.
The Jungle Book is a great musical for all ages to take in. Audiences, particularly youth, can be inspired to learn about the beauty of musical theater. But all are invited to simply enjoy the talented performances on display in this production.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 20 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.
Production: Laura Connors Hull (Co-Director), Ellen Selby (Script Adaptation/Co-Director), Matt Conner (Music and Choreography), Stephen Gregory Smith (Lyrics), Margie Jervis (Scenic, Prop, and Costume Design), and James Morrison (Lighting Design).
Cast: Liam McKane, Eva Geisinger, Leopold Morris, Emma Howell, Amanda Tarpley, Abby Field, Benji Burns, Lily Kales, Mai Gabra, Ben Graham, Lorien Jackson, Ashna Kapur, Abigail Agin, Libby Brooke, Lindsey Casstevens, Corinne Levitt, Sofia Marcus, Amira Miller-Muro, Leo Morris, James Patmore, Elaina Rosenberger, Emerson Thiebert, Enola Danewitz, Will Stevenson, Gabriela Simmons-Robles, Carmen Ortiz, Owen Thiebert, Miri Brooke, Gus Knapp