Complete Casting Announced for World Premiere of The Jungle Book Musical, Directed by Mary Zimmerman
By Andrew Gans
Casting has been announced for the world premiere of The Jungle Book, which will play Chicago's Goodman Theatre June 21- Aug. 4 prior to a run at Boston's Huntington Theatre Company Sept. 7-Oct. 6.
Based on Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling's 1893 collection of stories set in the Indian jungle and Walt Disney's 1967 animated film, the musical will be directed by Mary Zimmerman.
The cast will be led by ten-year-old Akash Chopra as Mowgli, the young, spunky and stubborn boy; Usman Ally as Bagheera, the wise old panther who is serious about the rules of life and the laws of the jungle; Elena Flores as Raksha, the warm, fawning Mother Wolf (Flores will play the Boston run, while Anjali Bhimani will appear in Chicago); Kevin Carolan as Baloo the bear, the carefree and irresponsible tutor to Mowgli; Glory Curda as the Little Girl; Thomas Derrah as Kaa, the sinewy, serpentine sly-but-charming villain; André De Shields as King Louie, the ambitious-but-scattered, comic, dreaming orangutan; Nehal Joshi as Rama, a wolf leader; and Larry Yando as Shere Khan, the tiger, the crafty, powerful and dangerous arch-villain.
The company will also feature Jeremy Duvall, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Monique Haley, Ed Kross, Govind Kumar, Alka Nayyar, Geoff Packard, Timothy Wilson and Victor Wisehart.
The Jungle Book is produced by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, which is providing financial support, creative consultation and access to song material never before heard onstage. “Working with Mary Zimmerman as she and her astonishing team begin to bring the show to life has been a joy,” said Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions, in a statement. “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.”
Richard M. Sherman is collaborating on this production, providing Doug Peck (music director, piano and harmonium) access and permission to adapt songs that Sherman and his brother, Robert, wrote for the film, unused songs written for the film, plus new lyrics written for this production.
“Favorites like ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘Trust in Me’ will make great appearances,” said Peck, who attended two music festivals while in India to explore the country’s Northern Classical/Hindustani and Southern Classical/Carnatic traditions. “‘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."
Eight musicians from the Chicago production will travel to Boston with Peck to play in the 12-member orchestra that will feature a blend of jazz and Indian instruments: Victor Garcia (trumpet); Shivalik Ghoshal (tabla); Ronnie Malley (percussion); Nick Moran (woodwinds); Saraswathi Ranganathan (veena); and Anuradha Sridhar (violin). A sitar player will join the orchestra, along with a drummer/percussionist, a trombonist, a bassist and a woodwinds player.
The creative team also includes Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli, who will work with choreographer/dancer Hema Rajagopalan (founder and artistic director of Chicago’s Natya Dance Theatre), scenic designer Daniel Ostling, costume designer Mara Blumenfeld, lighting designer T.J. Gerckens and sound designers Josh Horvath, Ray Nardelli and Andre Pluess.
For more information visit huntingtontheatre.org or GoodmanTheatre.org.
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