Think of the Jungle Book and you can be forgiven for thinking of the Disney cartoon or the musical version with its plethora of catchy songs.
But Stuart Paterson’s version of Rudyard Kipling’s novel, originally staged by the Birmingham Stage Company in 2004, is anything but Disneyesque.
Parker and Snell Company will be using Paterson’s stage adaptation, closer to the spirit and language of the original, in their youth production at the Gaiety Theatre next week.
Kipling’s Jungle Book stories were moral tales when they first appeared towards the end of the 19th century and the animals with human characteristics very much reflect this.
Mowgli is a young boy who is raised in the jungle by a family of wolves.
When Shere Khan the tiger swears to kill the child, Baloo and Bagheera agree to take the boy to the man village for his safety.
But the jungle holds danger and surprises for them all and Mowgli’s amazing adventure has just begun!
Director Colin Snell said: ‘If people come along expecting “I Wanna Be Like You” or the “Bare Necessities” they may very well go away disappointed, but if they come along wanting to see Kipling’s original story unfold on stage they are in for a treat!’
There is a large cast of 25. The principal characters are: Ryan Coates as Mowgli, Shere Khan (Joseph Long), Raksha (Rebecca Salmon), Akela (Christian Cooper), Baloo (James Craig), Bagheera (Joshua Moore), Tabaqui (Harry Harrison), Kaa (Robyn-Mae Lawler).
Colin said: ‘It’s very much an ensemble piece and that is the way I like to work.
‘Everyone has a role to play and a contribution to make to the overall impact and success of the production.’
He added: ‘It is also a fantastic opportunity for the island’s young people to be able to take to the Gaiety stage in a full-length straight play. After our success with “The Edelweiss Pirates”, as part of the National Theatre’s Connections programme, and the number of young people in our acting classes and summer film-making workshop, there is clear support for straight acting opportunities.
‘This production will showcase the island’s young talent.’ Jungle Book is suitable for all the family and will take to the Gaiety stage from Friday to Sunday next week (July 10 to 12).
Evening performances are on the Friday (7.30pm start) and Saturday (7pm).
Matinees are on the Saturday (2pm) and Sunday (4.30pm.
Tickets cost from £16 (concessions available).