The Jungle Book at Neptune Theatre is a visual stunner

28 Nov

I love musicals. I really, truly, deeply and sincerely love them. I sing ‘Seasons of Love’ (from RENT) in the shower, I listen to ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ (from Hairspray) on the treadmill, I belt out a good rendition of ‘Memories (from Cats) on lazy Sunday afternoons… ok maybe that last one is a lie, but you get my drift. Musicals + me = highly compatible. Therefore, I was excited to check out Neptune Theatre’s production of the Jungle Book.

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel of the same name, The Jungle Book features music and lyrics by Eric Hughes. For those unfamiliar,  the play follows the story of Mowgli, a boy raised in the jungles of India by a wolf pack.

Shere Kahn wants to take a bite of Mowgli

To avoid any confusion, I should clarify that this is NOT the Disney version of the Jungle Book and you will not be hearing “The Bare Necessities”. While the characters and the story are more or less the same, this Jungle Book is much darker than the one you might be used to. There are moments of silliness (largely provided by the monkeys) that are perfectly suited for young viewers, but there is also some pretty heavy subject matter that may not be  appropriate for all ages. (Example: At one point the villagers hatch a plan to trap Mowgli’s human mother in her house and burn it down.)  I don’t know how much of this content kids will actually take in and understand. It’s very possible/probable that anyone under the age of 10 will be focusing on the animal costumes and impressive set, but just as a warning – there is some material in the Jungle Book that kids might find frightening. That being said,  it is an entertaining show, and I remain ever-grateful that there is a place like Neptune in Halifax where we can see productions of this caliber.

The monkeys kidnap Mowgli. Kid can't catch a break.

So here’s what was really great about the Jungle Book: The monkeys kidnap Mowgli. Kid can’t catch a break.

– Baloo the Bear – this is a part designed to be a crowd-favorite, and it certainly was. The actor who played this role – Sheldon Bergstrom – had a great voice and did a great job. Also, he REALLY reminded me of Cameron from Modern Family. So I liked that.

– The dancing – I love me a good dance routine. There were some great dance breaks, including one that involved fire. What’s not to like about fire dancing?

– The monkey rap – late in the 1st act, the play suddenly shifts gears and the band of 4 monkeys do a full-blown rap number that involves the phrase ‘sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me’. It was very unexpected. I laughed.

– The set –  Neptune can really put together some extraordinary sets and do a lot on a fairly small stage. From deep in the jungle, to the monkey city, to the Indian village, there was no shortage of visual stimuli.

The Jungle Book runs at Neptune Theatre from Nov 22 – Jan 8. For information and tickets, check out the Neptune Theatre website or swing by the Neptune Box Office at 1593 Argyle Street.

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