Jungle Book – The Musical
Venue: King Street Theatre, Newtown
Written By: Markus Weber, Music by Michael Summ
This charming, clever and very entertaining adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved fables from The Jungle Book is an absolute must for the school holidays. Fast-paced, it holds its young audience’s attention from start to finish, the songs are clever and catchy and a superb cast provides some very funny stage action as well as meaningful moments.
The motherly and practical panther, Bagheera (Maria de Marco) devotes herself to role of protector and educator of the engagingly self-confident man-cub, Mowgli (a very talented Alfie Salvato), reared by wolves. In this, she is aided by the happy-go-lucky, food oriented bear, Baloo (Mark Power), whose friendly paw is likely to send poor Mowgli head-over-heels.
The main threat to Mowgli’s well-being is the great and powerful tiger, Shere Khan (Martin Charles), whose terrifying roar begins the play and who is determined to have the child for dinner. Another threat is a scarily hypnotic golden python, Kaa (Tiffany Joy), who also has ambitions to make a meal of Mowgli. Although King Louie (Kodie Amos), a remarkably loose-limbed and zany monkey, turns out to be a savior at the close, he kidnaps Mowgli hoping to learn how to be human.
The wise Bagheera realises, Mowgli cannot stay a child forever, and as he matures he will separate from the animals with whom he still lovingly identifies. She makes arrangements, despite his resistance, to return him to his village but not before the brave young boy must face his nemesis, Shere Khan.
The whole performance is permeated with such joy, which is surely the loveliest way of learning whatever moral lessons the children (and grown-ups) may take away from this very engaging theatre experience. The highest praise was given by a little girl, who as the excited audience jiggled past the assembled cast in the foyer post-play, looked earnestly up into the face of Shere Khan, and said ‘You’ll keep your promise not to hurt any more animals, won’t you.’
Loved the witty details in otherwise simple costuming. The bunched up hair for ears, striped socks and black leather jacket for the savage tiger, sequinned sunglasses for Kaa, ponderous bear slippers for Baloo and an orange puff of hair for King Louie. Admired the way the small stage was structured to allow both flow of movement and variety of setting and the resourceful creation of a jungle environment.
Take the children to see it. Real, live actors in a real theatre in a remarkable home-grown musical.