Two-time Tony nominee and Emmy Award winning actor André De Shields (The Full Monty, Play On!, The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’) stars as King Louie, the ambitious-but-scattered, comic, dreaming orangutan and Akela, the leader of the wolf pack, in the Mary Zimmerman helmed production of Disney’s The Jungle Book, a world premiere stage adaptation which began previews at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre on June 21, 2013 and has been extended through August 11, 2013. Opening night is July 1, 2013. The production will play at the Huntington in Boston from September 7 – October 6, 2013. Based on Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling’s 1893 collection of stories set in the Indian jungle and Walt Disney’s 1967 animated film, Zimmerman’s adaptation of The Jungle Book is a music- and movement-filled adventure of young Mowgli’s coming-of-age in the animal kingdom. For tickets and more information on The Jungle Book, click here.
BWW TV: First Look at Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK at the Goodman Theatre
The cast blends longtime Zimmerman collaborators with newcomers – including ten-year-old Akash Chopra as Mowgli, the young, spunky, and stubborn boy. Joining him will be Usman Ally (The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Second Stage Theatre) as Bagheera, the wise old panther who is serious about the rules of life and the laws of the jungle; Elena Flores (The House on Mango Street at Steppenwolf Theatre Company) as Raksha, the warm, fawning Mother Wolf (replacing Anjali Bhimani who will appear in Chicago); Kevin Carolan (Newsies on Broadway) as Baloo the bear, the carefree and irresponsible tutor to Mowgli; Glory Curda as the Little Girl; Thomas Derrah of Boston (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the Huntington) as Kaa, the sinewy, serpentine sly-but-charming villain; Nehal Joshi (LES MISERABLES on Broadway) as Rama, a wolf leader; and Larry Yando (Candide at the Huntington) as Shere Khan the tiger, the crafty, powerful and dangerous arch-villain.
An ensemble of actors, dancers, and singers create Kipling’s “people of the jungle”- vultures, monkeys, elephants, wolves, and more-including Jeremy Duvall, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Monique Haley, Ed Kross, Govind Kumar, Alka Nayyar, Geoff Packard (title role in Candide at the Huntington), Timothy Wilson, and Victor Wisehart.
André De Shields most recently appeared at the Goodman in Camino Real during the 2011/2012 Season. Previous Goodman credits include Play On! (Jeff Award; Black Theater Alliance Award) and Waiting for Godot. Other Chicago credits include The Gospel According to James at Victory Gardens Theater; Poe and Warp! at Organic Theater Company; Hair (professional debut) at the Shubert Theater and The Me Nobody Knows at Civic Stage. He has appeared on Broadway in Impressionism, Prymate (Drama Desk Award nomination), The Full Monty (Tony Award nomination), Play On! (Tony Award nomination), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Drama Desk Award nomination) and The Wiz. Mr. De Shields’ off-Broadway credits include Knock Me a Kiss (Audelco Award for Best Actor) at the New Federal Theatre and The Bacchae at the New York Shakespeare Festival. He has appeared on film in Extreme Measures, and his television credits include ‘Law & Order,’ “Sex and the City,” “Lipstick Jungle,” “Life on Mars,” “Rescue Me,” “Cosby” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (Emmy Award). Mr. De Shields won a Jeff Award for Best Director for The Colored Museum at Victory Gardens Theater, and was the choreographer for Bette Midler and the Harlettes at The Happy Medium. Mr. De Shields is a recipient of the 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship/Distinguished Achievement, and will be completing his residency at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater. www.andredeshields.com.
Photo Flash: First Look at Kevin Carolan, Jeremy Duvall and More in Goodman’s THE JUNGLE BOOK
The Jungle Book is produced by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, which proudly supports Zimmerman’s development of this title, providing financial support, creative consultation, and access to song material never before heard onstage.
Legendary Academy Award and Grammy winner Richard M. Sherman is collaborating on this production, providing Doug Peck (Music Director, Piano, and Harmonium) access and permission to adapt beloved 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,” says 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. 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).
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 (Broadway’s Newsies – also Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), who will work with choreographer/dancer Hema Rajagopalan, (founder and artistic director of Chicago’s Natya Dance Theatre) to combine elements of classical Indian dance forms with jazz, tap, and other types of movement to enhance the storytelling.
Scenic Designer Daniel Ostling, Costume Designer Mara Blumenfeld, and Lighting Designer T.J. Gerckens-each of whom have collaborated with Zimmerman over the past two decades on a wide range of projects in theatre (Candide at the Huntington, Arabian Nights, Metamorphoses, and more) and opera (Lucia di Lammermoor and La Sonnambula for The Metropolitan Opera)-reconvene to create Mowgli’s world on stage.
Sound Designers Josh Horvath, Ray Nardelli, and Andre Pluess complete the design team.
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. This summer she will appear as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Penwah, July 30-August 1, 2013.
Other articles about The Jungle Book:
Two-Time Tony Nominee André De Shields, Nehal Joshi, Akash Chopra and More Set for Mary Zimmerman helmed The Jungle Book at The Goodman, 6/21-8/4 and The Huntington, 9/7-10/6
windy city times: NUNN ON ONE: THEATER Andre De Shields navigates the theater ‘Jungle’
broadwayworld.com: André De Shields to Speak at International Council of Fine Arts Deans, 10/25
Chicago Sun-Times.com: Goodman Theatre, Disney unite for stage version of ‘Jungle Book’
nytimes.com: Cutting Through a Cultural Thicket ‘The Jungle Book’ Comes to the Stage
jetmag.com: Andre De Shields Stars in ‘The Jungle Book’
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