BWW Previews: DISNEY'S THE JUNGLE BOOK KIDS! Comes to Straz Center For The Performing Arts' TECO Theatre
Directed by Jamie Lynn Gilliam, on February 13-16, The Straz Center's Patel Conservatory will present The Jungle Book, Kids! in the TECO Theatre.
Featuring 33 children, from second to fifth grade, the thirty-minute musical performance is geared to the younger set, though everyone can enjoy the story of Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo, and the ferocious Shere Khan and all their jungle friends. Even the forest comes alive in this Disney tale.
"The jungle is characters, like a Greek chorus. I have the students dressed as jungle flowers and trees and they stay on stage the whole time telling the story of the show. They are the only color in the show. Everyone else is browns and greys. They move around and create the color of the jungle for us," said Jamie. "Within the 30 minutes, nearly 20 minutes is singing. There are lots of fun songs that everyone knows."
In this production, the black panther, Bagheera, is played by ten-year-old Maya Rapson who's been with the Conservatory for 5 years.
Jamie reacted with laughter, amused at Maya's description of her favorite part of her role.
"I get to try new things, and sleep on stage is part of the choreography. It's amazing," said Maya. "I like the fact that I'm on stage a lot and get experience all that's happening."
Jamie said that she gave Maya this particular role to stretch her abilities.
"She has to be grown up in this show. She doesn't get to be very energetic because she's the panther who's very calm. I wanted to see her reign it in and see what she would do, trying to play the adult mother essentially."
Jamie said that the central message of the production is that friends and family are who you make them.
"I want everyone to talk about how well everyone did. I'm very proud of these kids. There are lots of fun songs that everyone knows."
No matter what role they have in the jungle, each student is included in the story.
"It's definitely an ensemble piece," said Jamie.
Maya added, "We're just one big happy family... in the jungle."
Disney's The Jungle Book, Kids! will be presented in TECO Theater on February 13-16. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. (sensory-friendly performance), and 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by calling 813.229.7827 in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office, or online at www.strazcenter.org.