ML - Boston Common

2013 - Issue 4 - Fall

Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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HOTTEST TICKET André De Shields as King Louie and Akash Chopra as Mowgli perform in The Jungle Book, opening at the Huntington's BU Theatre this fall. Jungle Fever B orn in India but raised in a rough British boarding school, Rudyard Kipling wrote the stories that compose The Jungle Book while living in Vermont, of all places. He and his American wife built a home just outside of Brattleboro, not far from her family estate, and lived there until a family feud caused them to return to England. Kipling's peripatetic life could well explain why he wrote about the orphaned boy Mowgli in search of a loving home. It's a story that resonated with Walt Disney, who oversaw production of the 1967 animated hit film—the last project he worked on before his death. Now a brand-new theater adaptation plays at the Huntington Theatre Company after a box-officebusting run in Chicago this summer. Unlike other Disney theatrical productions like Mary Poppins or The Lion King, Disney has largely left creation of this musical to the coproducers of the Huntington and Chicago's Goodman Theatre. At the helm is Mary Zimmerman, a MacArthur Foundation genius grant fellowship winner who directed Candide 74 to acclaim at the Huntington two years ago. Zimmerman explains her attraction to Kipling's theme of innocence lost: "The Mowgli stories, although they are completely fantastical and imaginary, were an act of recovery for [Kipling]. It was the recovery of a lost paradise—the paradise of his Indian childhood. We were all "We all have to leave the place of nature to enter the adult world." —MARY ZIMMERMAN once very young and wild and close to the animals, and we all have to grow up and leave the place of nature to enter the adult world," she says. "We put into books and paintings and plays that which we have lost. We are attempting to recover that loss." Zimmerman and her creative team found aesthetic inspiration for The Jungle Book on a two-week trip to India where, she says, they intensively discussed the project 24/7. "We knew early on that we wanted a beautiful, graphic jungle, but not one that matched the film exactly, and we knew that we didn't want to do costumes that hid the human form or face too much. That was in keeping with Kipling's penchant for describing the animals in utterly human terms," Zimmerman says. The music has been adapted, too, with famed Disney songwriter Richard Sherman offering counsel. He, along with his late brother, Robert, wrote much of The Jungle Book's music. But here the songs have an Indian and jazz infusion with sitars and swing. "Sherman is a miraculous man," Zimmerman says. "He's full of drive, energy— utterly enthusiastic." So are audiences. On word of mouth alone, the Huntington extended the show's run even before the production in Chicago closed. The Jungle Book runs September 7– October 13 at the Huntington Theatre Company's BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., 617-266-0800; BC PHOTOGRAPHY BY LIZ LAUREN THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY'S NEW THEATRICAL PRODUCTION OF THE JUNGLE BOOK MAKES US FALL IN LOVE WITH RUDYARD KIPLING'S TALES ALL OVER AGAIN. BY JARED BOWEN BOSTONCOMMON-MAGAZINE.COM 074_BC_SC_HT-JungleBook_Fall13.indd 74 8/2/13 2:30 PM

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