Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: André De Shields, Kevin Carolan, Larry Yando, Thomas Derrah and Akash Chopra Star in Mary Zimmerman’s World Premiere Adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book at The Huntington, Opens 9/18 and Extended through 10/20

André De Shields (King Louie) and Akash Chopra (Mowgli) in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book. Photo by Liz Larsen

André De Shields (King Louie) and Akash Chopra (Mowgli) in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book. Photo by Liz Larsen

I am in Boston to attend the world premiere adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book, which began previews on September 7, and opens tonight on the Huntington’s main stage, the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 617 266 0800, and in person at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre and South End / Calderwood Pavilion box offices. Twice extended, The Jungle Book will close on October 20, 2013.

(from left to right) Vultures Govind Kumar, Ed Kross, Nehal Joshi, and Geoff Packard in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book. Photo by Liz Larsen

(from left to right) Vultures Govind Kumar, Ed Kross, Nehal Joshi, and Geoff Packard in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book. Photo by Liz Larsen

The “inventive and visually stunning” (Entertainment Weekly) production, wholly reimagined for the stage by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman (Candide) is 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 is a music-and movement-filled adventure of young Mowgli’s coming-of-age in the animal kingdom featuring the movie’s best-loved songs in wholly new Indian-inspired arrangements. Legendary Academy Award and Grammy winner Richard M. Sherman — whose numerous songwriting credits with brother Robert B. Sherman include the motion pictures The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The AristoCats — collaborates on this production, providing Music Director Doug Peck access and permission to adapt songs that Sherman and his brother wrote for the film, plus never-before-heard material. Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli with Indian dance consultant Hema Rajagopalan combine elements of classical Indian dance forms with jazz, tap, and more to enhance the storytelling.

The Jungle Book transfers from and is produced in association with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre where it was extended three times due to popular demand and is the company’s highest attended musical production in its history. The Huntington production features the entire original cast including Two-time Tony Award nominee André De Shields (Full Monty, Play On!, Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Wiz) as King Louie, Kevin Carolan as Baloo, Larry Yando (Candide) as Shere Kahn, Thomas Derrah (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) as Kaa, and Akash Chopra and Roni Akurati as Mowgli. See below for full cast information. Eight original musicians are joined by four Boston musicians to comprise the jazz/Indian band of twelve. Zimmerman’s creative team from Candidereunites, with scenic design by Daniel Ostling, costume design by Mara Blumenfeld, and lighting design by T.J. Gerkens. Joshua Horvath, Ray Nardelli, and Andre J. Pluess provide the sound design. Production stage manager is M. William Shiner. Stage managers are Katie Most and Jeremiah Mullane.

Extended twice by popular demand, The Jungle Book plays September 7 — October 20 at the Huntington’s main stage, the BU Theatre. Tickets start at $25 with prices ranging to $135 – subject to change – with select discounts available:
online at
by phone at 617 266 0800
in person at the Box Offices at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre (264 Huntington Avenue) and South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA (527 Tremont Street).

Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and named Best of Boston 2013 by Boston magazine, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premiere cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso and in residence at Boston University, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit

Named the summer’s hot ticket by USA Today, The Jungle Book has been critically hailed as “entirely fresh, ever-surprising, and winningly whimsical” (Chicago Sun-Times), “sophisticated, sensual, and gorgeous” (Chicago Tribune), and “breathlessly entertaining” (Daily Herald). The New York Times praises, “The flora and fauna of India shimmer with eye-filling allure in the inventive new stage adaptation.”

“The way my team and I make a show is such a whirlwind the first time around it is always desirable to have a place to go where we can continue to work after having caught our breath,” says adaptor and director Zimmerman whose 2011 production of Candide is the Huntington’s highest grossing musical in its 31-year history. “And so from the beginning, we knew we wanted to partner with another regional theatre where the show would grow and develop. Candide reached a kind of nirvana at the Huntington, so I’m absolutely thrilled to return to Boston.”

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. “The Huntington Theatre Company is one of the country’s great theatres and, we are thrilled to be working with them as we embark on the next chapter in The Jungle Book’s evolution,” said Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions. “Boston audiences are legendary for their discernment and passion for new work and we can’t wait for them to see what Mary Zimmerman and her extraordinary company have crafted.”

Disney Theatrical Productions proudly partners with Goodman Theatre and the Huntington Theatre Company to bring Mary Zimmerman’s vision to theatrical life. A division of The Walt Disney Studios, DTP was formed in 1994 and operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher. With 15 productions currently produced or licensed, a Disney musical is being performed professionally somewhere on the planet virtually every hour of the day. Worldwide, its eight Broadway titles have been seen by over 124 million theatergoers and have, cumulatively, run a staggering 195 years. The company’s inaugural production, Beauty and the Beast, opened in 1994, playing a remarkable 13 year Broadway run and produced in 28 countries worldwide. In November 1997, Disney opened The Lion King, which received six 1998 Tony® Awards including Best Musical and is now the highest grossing show in Broadway history. In its 16th smash year, it has welcomed over 70 million visitors worldwide and can currently be seen on Broadway; on tour across North America, the U.K., and Japan; and in London’s West End, Hamburg, Tokyo, Madrid, and Sao Paulo. Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida opened on Broadway next, winning four 2000 Tony® Awards and spawning productions around the world. Mary Poppins, a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh, opened in London in 2004 and established itself as one of the biggest stage musical successes to emerge in recent years, playing more than six years on Broadway and produced around the world. Tarzan®, which opened on Broadway in 2006, is now an international hit with an award-winning production in its sixth year in Germany. In January 2008, The Little Mermaid opened on Broadway and was the #1-selling new musical of that year. Its success continues with regional productions across the US and new productions on three other continents. Newsies and Peter and the Starcatcher, its two most recent Broadway productions, received seven 2012 Tony® Awards between them and continue their smash New York City runs. In addition, DTP licenses stage performance rights to more than a dozen Disney musicals around the world through Music Theatre International. Its new musical, Aladdin, will open in Toronto in fall 2013.

Cast (in order of appearance):
Nikka Graff Lanzarone Peacock & Others
Alka Nayyar Doe, Insect, and Monkey
André De Shields Akela and King Louie
Timothy Wilson Wolf and others
Victor Wisehart Wolf & Others
Govind Kumar Wolf, Vulture, and others
Nehal Joshi Rama (a wolf) and others
Usman Ally Bagheera
Anjali Bhimani Raksha (a wolf) and others
Larry Yando Shere Kahn
Monique Haley Insect and others
Jeremy Duvall Insect and others
Akash Chopra* / Roni Akurati Mowgli
Thomas Derrah Kaa
Ed Kross Colonel Hathi and others
Geoff Packard Lieutenant George, Giddha (a vulture), and others
Kevin Carolan Baloo
Glory Curda Little Girl
Company Manager Aidan O’Reilly
Nebyu Berhane Ensemble
* Akash Chopra is appearing with the permission of Actors’ Equity Association.
Scott Severance, Mikayla Tow Understudy
Adrian Ruz, Alessandra Valea, Pim van Amerongen Swings

Doug Peck Conductor, Piano, Harmonium
Neel Murgai Sitar, Daf, Overtone Vocal
Saraswathi Ranganathan Veena
Anuradha Sridhar Carnatic Violin
Victor Garcia Trumpet, Snake Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Walt Bostian Trombone, Bass Trombone, Tuba, Snake Trumpet
Mark Pinto Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Flute
Juli Wood Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Shivalik Ghoshal Tablas, Dholak
Ronnie Malley (through Oct. 6) Ghattam, Dholak, Dhol, Dumbek, Percussion, Oud
Tareq Rantisi (starting Oct. 7) Ghattam, Dholak, Dhol, Dumbek, Percussion
Mike Ambrozewski Drums
Tony D’Amico Bass
Rick Hammett Orchestra Contractor

Lia Chang. Photo by Thom Sesma

Lia Chang. Photo by Thom Sesma

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred 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 Phynjuar.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Roscoe Orman, Anthony Chisholm, Amari Cheatom, Stephen McKinley Henderson and More Set for Live Recording of Jitney at The Greene Space
Photos: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Phylicia Rashad, John Earl Jelks, Leslie Uggams, Anthony Chisholm, S. Epatha Merkerson, Taraji P. Henson, Jesse L. Martin, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Kenny Leon and More Set for August Wilson American Century Cycle Recording Series at The Greene Space in NY, Aug. 26-Sept. 28, 2013
Photos: All-Access Pass to August Wilson’s Two Trains Running with John Earl Jelks, Harvy Blanks, Chuck Cooper, Anthony Chisholm, Owiso Odera, Roslyn Ruff and James A. Williams
Photos: Opening Night of Will Power’s Fetch Clay, Make Man with John Earl Jelks, Richard Masur, Nikki M. James, K. Todd Freeman, Ray Fisher
Sept. 13 – Oct. 12: Bryan Cranston, Brandon J. Dirden, Michael McKean, Reed Birney, Peter Jay Fernandez, Crystal Dickinson and More Set for Robert Schenkkan’s All The Way at A.R.T. Review: Power Play Powerful & Suspenseful
Portraits of New York Chinatown after 9/11
Oct. 9 – Nov. 17: Denise Burse and Michael Genet Star in Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts at Center Stage
Photos: Denise Burse, Lizan Mitchell, Novella Nelson, Arthur French at Regina Taylor’s stop. reset with LaTanya Richardson Jackson at Signature
Photos: Edward James Hyland Stars in Lee Blessing’s WORLD PREMIERE A User’s Guide to Hell, Featuring Bernard Madoff At Atlantic Stage II, September 5 – 28, 2013
A Summer in Bangkok for Thom Sesma, Star of Signature’s Miss Saigon
Signature Theatre’s 2013-14 Season Features New Works by Albee, Hwang, Enos, Taylor, Wilson, Clarke and Jacobs-Jenkins
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Video: Power Play’s Lorey Hayes and Lia Chang on The Carmen Mathis Show
Hal Williams, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ben Guillory, Oz Scott, Jonathan McCrory and Starletta DuPois among 2013 National Black Theatre Festival® Honorees
Tonya Pinkins, Dorien Wilson, Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Rain Pryor, André De Shields, Debbi Morgan, Chester Gregory, Tommy Ford and More Set for National Black Theatre Festival® in Winston-Salem, NC
Photos: Charles Smith’s Knock Me A Kiss Starring André De Shields Featured in Encore Performances at The National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, July 30-August 1, 2013
The Chronicle Features Lorey Hayes’ Power Play
Celebrity Actress, Pauletta Pearson Washington returns home to North Carolina starring at 2013 National Black Theatre festival with Roscoe Orman (“Sesame Street,” Willie Dynamite) and all star cast in Lorey Hayes’ award-winning “Power Play”, a play about Politics, Passion and The Power of God
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

2 comments on “Lia Chang: André De Shields, Kevin Carolan, Larry Yando, Thomas Derrah and Akash Chopra Star in Mary Zimmerman’s World Premiere Adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book at The Huntington, Opens 9/18 and Extended through 10/20

    September 19, 2013

    Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content.

    Please let me know. Many thanks

  2. Lia Chang
    October 1, 2013


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