Disney's The Jungle Book
by San Diego Junior Theatre

Photo by Daniel BairdRaised by wolves in the jungles of India since as far back as he ran remember, Mowgli feels more like a wolf, or even a bear, than he does a human. But Shere Kahn the tiger doesn’t see him that way. Shere Kahn sees a potential predator, and he wants to get rid of Mowgli before the boy is old enough to wield a gun. Mowgli’s sensible panther friend Bagheera wants to get the boy to a man-village where he’ll be safe, Mowgli’s new and sometimes less-than-sensible friend Baloo thinks they’ll be just fine, and a variety of other animals either want to play with him, protect him, or eat him. Will the Bare Necessities of life be enough to get Mowgli through it all?

Yes, this is Disney’s The Jungle Book – not the animated film but the stage version of it, with all the beloved characters and songs, and a few new songs with similar melodies. And Director Will Neblett recently led the cast and crew of San Diego Junior Theatre in a fun, little production of it at their small theatre in La Jolla.

Alec Ruiz de Castilla is young Mowgli, just wanting to have fun, brave but naïve. Ben Sutton is the pragmatic Bagheera. Carmen Quinones is amusing as the laidback, easygoing Baloo. He also has a pretty mean roar that he tries to pass on to Mowgli. Theoretically. A sound glitch didn’t play the ferocious roar on cue, so after his silent growl, Carmen adlibbed nicely explaining, “Well, you get what I mean.”

Tracy Warren monopolizes the roles of jungle animals who would do Mowgli harm – both as a hungry, hypnotic snake named Kaa, and as the calmly ruthless kitty Shere Kahn. While on the lighter and more humorous side of the jungle, Max Oilman-Williams is the crazy leader of the monkeys, King Louie, who “wants to be like you.” Alden Phinney leads a hardy bunch of pachyderms in marching drills, with Sierra Ottilie-Kovelman as the cute and friendly Baby Elephant. But they are too big for the small stage. When the proud, never-forgetting Colonel Hathi “forgets” an order and all the elephants crash together, it occurs off stage, which doesn’t really work and should probably be restaged or cut.

The show saves the best scenes for last. First, a quartet of goofy vultures (Cassidy Lutosky, Caroline Peck, Casey Purlia Johnson, and Mashun Tucker) with cockney accents who don’t know what to do, plus one “Doo-Wop Vulture” soloist (Gabriella Garcia), end up being the unlikely friends of Mowgli as the inevitable showdown with Shere Kahn looms. Later, the adorable Ruby Ross coyly tempts Mowgli towards a life in a man-village in a nicely done closing chapter of The Jungle Book.

Performs September 14 - 23, 2007.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Bagheera: Ben Sutton
Mowgli: Alec Ruiz de Castilla
Baloo: Carmen Quinones
Shere Kahn/Kaa/Elephant/Water: Tracy Warren
King Louie: Max Oilman-Williams
Akela/Colonel Hathi/Tree: Alden Phinney
Wolf/Winifred/Tree: Althea Aggson
Raksha/Elephant/Water: Olivia Peck
Coil/Flaps/Rock/Monkey: Cassidy Lutosky
Coil/Flower/Monkey/Shanti: Ruby Ross
Buzzy/Flower/Monkey: Caroline Peck
Ziggy/Rock/Monkey: Casey Purlia Johnson
Dizzy/Rock/Monkey: Mashun Tucker
Young Wolf/Vine/Monkey: McKenna Allard
Young Wolf/Vine/Monkey: Madeline Ottilie
Young Wolf/Monkey: Anna George
Young Wolf/Monkey: Paige Solomon
Baby Elephant/Flower/Monkey: Sierra Ottilie-Kovelman
Monkey/Elephant: Trenton Austin
Plant/Elephant/Monkey: Roberto Quinones
Plant/Elephant/Monkey: Danny Helms
Plant/Elephant/Monkey/Doo-Wop Vulture: Gabriella Garcia

Director: Will Neblett
Choreographer: Jennifer Winspear
Music Director: Angie Serrano
Costume Design: Lynn Jennings, Cynthia Carvajal
Technical Director/Set Design/Lighting Design: Cynthia Bloodgood
Stage Manager: Rebecca Knell


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