Jungle Book Will Swing With Help of Christopher Gattelli; Sherman Bros. Trunk Songs, Indian Music Added
By Kenneth Jones
The creative team of the new musical The Jungle Book, drawing from the 1967 animated Disney film and the work of Rudyard Kipling, will include Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli, music director Doug Peck, set designer Daniel Ostling and more, Goodman Theatre announced.
The Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman, previously announced, is shepherding this production and will draw on the film score by the Sherman Brothers plus trunk songs by the team, plus Indian music and movement.
The world premiere of The Jungle Book will play Chicago's Goodman Theatre June 21-July 28 prior to a run at Boston's Huntington Theatre Sept. 7-Oct. 6.
Casting will be announced, but details about the script and score have been revealed.
According to Goodman, "Zimmerman and her designers traveled to India to observe and research both current and historic forms of decorative art, dress and music — and, with music director Doug Peck, Zimmerman held two music workshops to fuse songs (the popular tunes from the film, its sequel and more) and styles (Western jazz and swing with Indian-inspired dance and classical music) to create a sound unique to this production."
Academy Award-winning composer Richard M. Sherman, whose songwriting credits with brother Robert B. Sherman include the tunes for the films "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Jungle Book," "Mary Poppins" and "The Aristocats," has "shared songs from the Sherman Brothers' trunk and other previously unreleased material."
The creative team will include Gattelli (who won his Tony for Newsies) and designers Ostling (set); Mara Blumenfeld (costumes); T.J. Gerckens (lighting); and Andre Pluess, Josh Horvath and Ray Nardelli (sound).
Expect "the jungle spring to life in a music-and movement-filled spectacle that chronicles young Mowgli's adventures growing up in the animal kingdom." Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling's 1893 collection of stories is set in the Indian jungle.
Zimmerman (Metamorphoses) said in a statement, "Our challenge with the stage adaptation is to combine the profundity, beauty and even strangeness of Kipling's stories with the spirit and music of the film which is all joy, joy, joy. Our music workshop united six Chicago swing/jazz musicians with six Indian instrumentalists who combined their virtuosity into something new and completely exciting. The songs from the film are utterly recognizable — yet renewed and enriched — and it's the thrill of a lifetime to work with the legendary Richard Sherman."
Peck added, "Favorites like 'Bare Necessities' and 'Trust in Me' will make great appearances. 'Colonel Hathi' will probably feel like a musical/dance highlight — one of the biggest moments — and 'Baloo's Blues' will be the debut of a new piece of material."
Music director Peck will contribute new orchestrations and arrangements to the project. He attended two music festivals while in India "to explore the Northern Classical/Hindustani and Southern Classical/Carnatic traditions."
The all-new orchestration "includes a blend of Western instruments (piano, bass, drums, trumpet, trombone, tuba, flute, clarinet, saxophone) and traditional Indian instruments (harmonium, sitar, veena, tablas, tanpura, ghatam, Carnatic violin)."
For more information, visit GoodmanTheatre.org.
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