Disney’s The Jungle Book Opens in Chicago

the_jungle_book_poster_a_pAnything but the bare necessities! With The Lion King and Newsies holding down New York and Aladdin set to fly into town come next spring, what exactly is Disney Theatrical’s latest project? While many would hope for something along the lines of Hercules or Hunchback, this new Disney musical may be set far from civilian life but is so crazy it is set right in the middle of it’s very own jungle; literally. Combing a Disney classic animated film, an all-star production team and an honor to the culture from where the story came from,  Disney’s latest stage production is here and more beautiful than ever before. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you coverage of Disney’s The Jungle Book opening tonight in Chicago!

Disney’s The Jungle Book is a brand new musical based off of the 1967 Disney animated film of the same title. The musical features an adapted book by Mary Zimmerman. Douglas Peck, who serves as the musical director, has adapted and re-orchestrated some of the original songs from the production written by Richard and Robert Sherman. The story tells that of a young boy in the wilderness surrounded and living alongside some of the craziest animals you may just ever have the chance to experience. The story is based on a collection of stories  from Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling’s 1893 collection.

7897_10151420382321237_1133421895_nDisney’s The Jungle Book began previews at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago on June 21st, 2013. The show will officially open tonight! It was originally scheduled to play through August 4th only but that has already been extended one week now through August 11th. The show is being produced with special arrangements through Disney Theatrical which has provided financial support, creative consultation and access to song material never before heard onstage for the world premiere of the new musical. The show will transfer to Boston in the Fall.

junglebook03Leading us on this incredible adventure through the jungle is 10-year-old Akash Chopra who stars as Mowgli, a young boy (Roni Akurati plays the role at select performances). Usman Ally who stars as Bagheera, Elena Flores who stars as Raksha (Flores will play the Boston run, while Anjali Bhimani appears in Chicago); Kevin Carolan who stars as Baloo the bear, Glory Curda who stars as the Little Girl; Thomas Derrah who stars as Kaa, André De Shields who stars as King Louie, Nehal Joshi who stars as Rama and Larry Yando who stars as Shere Khan the tiger. The ensemble features Jeremy Duvall, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Monique Haley, Ed Kross, Govind Kumar, Alka Nayyar, Geoff Packard, Timothy Wilson and Victor Wisehart.

The creative team for the show is helmed by Mary Zimmerman who is directing the production and has also adapted the piece for the stage production. Others include Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli, Daniel Ostling as scenic designer, Mara Blumenfeld as costume designer, T.J. Gerckens as lighting designer and Josh Horvath, Ray Nardelli and Andre Pluess as sound designers . Lou Castro serves as associate choreographer, and Hema Rajagopalanaz, who is the founder and artistic director of Chicago’s Natya Dance Theatre, is the Indian dance consultant. Production stage manager is Alden Vasquez.

When talking about the production recently, Disney Theatrical President and Producer Thomas Schumacher 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.”

BL8MYFQCMAAGF1_.jpg-largeLuner on Theatre is very excited about this brand new Disney production making its way to the stage! What I like about this project Disney has decided to work on is that it is not your most obvious choice. Of course, fans have hailed previous works such as The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast while still requesting other favorites come to life on the stage like Hercules or Hunchback. The Jungle Book is a small choice that Disney has truly focused in on and done their homework for. It seems to us as though they have managed to bring to life a story they want to tell while honoring many customs, traditions and designs of a lifestyle many of us do not even know. I don’t know if a Broadway future is in store for The Jungle Book but that may not be the point here. The Jungle Book proves just how well Disney can do at regional works not aiming for high commercial value.

If you don’t get the chance to check out Disney’s The Jungle Book while it runs in Chicago over the summer, have no fear! This beautiful jungle will be reappearing later this year just halfway across the country in Boston! Disney’s The Jungle Book is already set to transfer to Huntington Theatre Company running from September 7th to October 6th, 2013! Luner on Theatre will continue to bring you more updates on The Jungle Book as they appear! For more information, visit Goodman Theatre’s Official Website. Be sure to check Luner on Theatre on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter as well! We are constantly updating these pages with information! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!


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