Asolo Rep Presents The World Premiere Of JUNGLE BOOK
Asolo Repertory Theatre proudly presents the final production of its 2017-18 season: the world premiere of JUNGLE BOOK, a boldly re-imagined family friendly stage adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner Rudyard Kipling's beloved classic. From the creators of Asolo Rep's 2017 hit production of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, JUNGLE BOOK previews June 6 - 8, opens June 9 and runs through June 24 in the Mertz Theatre, located in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. It is recommended for ages 5 and up and will be presented by Kidoons and WYRD Productions in association with the 20K Collective, produced by Jeff Lord, co-created and co-directed by Craig Francis and Rick Miller.
JUNGLE BOOK takes the same multimedia theatrical approach as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea to re-imagine a classic story through modern eyes. The play will incorporate stories and poems from the book and, through the use of immersive video and interactive technology, will transport audiences to the jungles of India. From Mowgli the human-cub, Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther, Kaa the snake, and more, JUNGLE BOOK will bring to life the characters audiences know and love, while also introducing some of the other colorful inhabitants of Kipling's books, and of today's urban jungle.
"We wanted to bring out the fact that Mowgli (like Captain Nemo last season) is disconnected from humanity. He is torn between the animal and human worlds, and between his two families. Kids and people of all ages can really relate to his search for belonging," said Craig Francis.
Rick Miller adds: "When Baloo the sloth bear teaches Mowgli the 'Law of the Jungle', it's a very clear echo of Kipling's poem 'If', which had a huge influence on me when I was a child. We hope this show helps us all gain perspective on how to live more respectfully with nature, and with each other."
Levin Valayil leads the cast as Mowgli. He originated the roles of Lottery in the new musical Monsoon Wedding at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Dharun Ravi in the new musical Poster Boy at Williamstown Theatre Festival. Miriam Fernandes plays Shere Khan, Kaa, Maya and others. Her credits include Prince Hamlet (Why Not Theatre); Dinner with the Gods (Wolf and Wallflower, Sydney AU); the world premieres of The Snow Queen and A Sunday Affair (Theatre New Brunswick) and more.
Matt Lacas plays Akela, Baloo, Buldeo and more. An international performer, he has performed in Europe, Asia and in Canada. Roles include Ram (Les Moutons, Corpus); Gomez (Addams Family Musical, RCPA); Bob (Fabulous Lipitones, Miracle Theatre); and Demetrius (Titus Andronicus, MSTC). Anita Majumdar plays Raksha, Bagheera, Messua and others. She is an award-winning actress, playwright and dancer who was profiled in Vogue India. She was the only featured Canadian actress in Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
JUNGLE BOOK will feature original music composed by Dora award-winning, JUNO-nominated world/fusion vocalist Suba Sankaran. The design team includes Astrid Janson and Melanie McNeill (Set, Props and Costume Design); multiple Dora Award winners Debashis Sinha (Sound Design) and Rebecca Picherack (Lighting Design); as well as Irina Litvinenko (Multimedia Design) whose work was seen at Asolo Rep in Twenty Thousand Leagues.
Asolo Rep will host Family Day at JUNGLE BOOK on Saturday, June 16 beginning at 12:30pm. Before the matinee performance, explore jungle life, ecology, and storytelling in the lobby, in partnership with South Florida Museum, Sarasota County Libraries, Big Cat Habitat, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. Family package pricing starts at $15 per person (one person in the party must be 18 or younger).
"Our drive to present highly imaginative, innovative and fresh programming for all ages began in 2016 with Hetty Feather," said Asolo Rep Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards. "With the success of our June 2017 production of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, Asolo Rep's annual family friendly production is well on its way to becoming a beloved staple for Sarasota families. I am thrilled to continue the momentum with the world premiere of JUNGLE BOOK, from the same brilliant team that brought our audiences aboard the Nautilus submarine in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. This stunning production takes Rudyard Kipling's beloved stories and brings them to life with a jaw dropping multi-media twist."
Asolo Rep is committed to making the month of June a time for families, so much so that its board of directors voted to designate a gift of $84,000 that the theatre received in fall 2016 as a beneficiary of the Joy McCann Culverhouse Charitable Remainder Trust, to producing a family-oriented show in June 2017, 2018 and 2019. These funds, as well as major gifts received from Edie Winston and The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, made it possible for Asolo Rep to develop JUNGLE BOOK for the stage. These gifts, along with significant support from a range of corporate sponsors, foundations, and individual donors, are helping to underwrite production costs, keeping ticket prices affordable for area families, and a range of enrichment activities.
With donor support, Asolo Rep is providing more than 1,600 youth and family members with free tickets to JUNGLE BOOK, as well as souvenir knapsacks, each stuffed with a book, activity sheets, and more. Partner organizations include ALSO Youth; Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee and Sarasota Counties; Girls, Inc.; Jewish Family and Children's Services; Prism Youth Initiative; Visible Men Academy, Sarasota Summer Learning Academies at Tuttle, Emma E. Booker, Gocio, and Alta Vista Elementary Schools, Sarasota County Libraries and Sarasota and Hardee County YMCAs.