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Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of Edward Mast’s Jungalbook was one of the most enjoyable productions I could have asked for. In their 75th season, it is a wonder I have not seen an RLT production before.
As the show finished, a little boy sitting behind me very matter-of-factly said to his mother, “That was nothing like the movie.” Rightfully so. RLT produced a version that you have not seen before. Though I remember the versions I saw in my childhood, I was not always able to anticipate the next part of the story.
With its full cast of dedicated, young actors, I found myself consistently delighted with each passing scene. The beautiful scenic elements, designed by Shannon Clark, practically created a jungle gym. I did not expect dancing, but it was wonderfully choreographed by Alison Williams and well rehearsed. The costumes and makeup, designed by Vicki Olson, clearly defined which animal each actor played. A great crew, led by Director Linda O’Day Young, worked on this production and their efforts are evident.
The fight scenes were especially impressive and showed great coordination. Mowgli’s defeat of Sherakahn was very well choreographed and employed symbolic elements to illustrate such. Death is an occurrence throughout the piece, but it is definitely not the focus. Jungalbook makes the clear point that death is a part of life; you cannot have one without the other. Death is addressed in a way, though, that is touching and respectful.
Indian culture through costumes and dance seamlessly fused with the story. The dance elements made it especially enjoyable along with the specific representation of each animal. The actors clearly manifested the mannerisms of their characters – be they human or animal. The makeup made it difficult to distinguish the ages of the actors, but so did the acting. The younger actors and the older actors joined to create a cohesive whole where age was no longer a marker of talent.
If you have children, you should definitely take them to see this production, which runs until November 21 – for details, see our calendar. The show is appropriate for young audiences but it is also enjoyable for adults. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing it again myself.
*The author is a member of CVNC''s ongoing internship program at Meredith College.