This summer, Theatre Macon has chosen The Jungle Book for its Youth Actors Company performance, which opens Saturday night.
The version we are doing is typically done for younger actors and actresses, said Jonathan Willis, the shows director. The show is running about 50 minutes and you get the entire Jungle Book. It has all the songs that everyone knows and loves from the Disney version.
For anyone not familiar with The Jungle Book, it is about a boy named Mowgli.
Mowgli was presumably abandoned by his parents. No one knows what happened to them, Willis said. He has been raised by wolves. We meet him eight or 10 years into his life. His caretaker is the panther Bagheera. Shere Khan, the tiger, wants to kill him and Bagheera wants to send Mowgli to live in the man village. Mowgli does not want to go and wishes to stay with his friends.
The costumes and the way the play is staged is something Willis said hes proud of.
Some of the animal characters are being portrayed by some rather large puppets that are being manipulated by the actors. Some of the younger cast is acting as representations of the animals, with a tail or ears, he said. Everything is pretty stylized to actual clothes. Shere Khan is in a tiger print coat. We have some neat molded rubber head pieces, too. I always like to do a wink and a nod to certain aspects in shows. Weve put some of the smallest kids as mice in the show and we are giving them suggestions of costumes from the Cinderella movie.
The cast of 18 kids ranges in age from 5-17.
A lot of these kids are on the stage for the very first time. We have been working on learning about theater as well as doing a show, and they learn the ins and outs of how a theater works, how to rehearse, when to take breaks and what to do, he said. This is a learning experience -- for them and for me. This is my first time directing young children and I was a little bit nervous, but its funny how much my personality changes to accommodate them. Im glad Ive learned this about myself and they have all just been great. They are now getting to the point where they are learning exactly how a show runs.
Mowgli is played by a new actor to YAC, Conner Street. Baloo, the bear, is played by Brent Jones. Bagheera is played by Reci Davis, who is also new, and Shere Khan is played by Griffin Hutchins.
These actors, and the cast overall, has been wonderful to work with, he said.
The Jungle Book
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 10, 16-17; 2:30 p.m. Aug. 11 and 18
Where: Theatre Macon, 438 Cherry St.
Cost: $18 adults, $12 children/students, online or at the door only
Information: www.theatremacon.com, 478-746-9485