Disney's The Jungle Book

Discussion of musicals other than Les Misérables.
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deHavilland
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Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby deHavilland » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:13 am

Recently there's been a lot of buzz in my neck of the woods about Disney's new Aladdin production, which is premiering in Toronto and then moving over to Broadway, but until today I hadn't heard anything about this Jungle Book production.

Based on the movie - and one hundred percent sanctioned and sponsored by the ol' House of Mouse - the production began previews in Chicago last week and opens on July 1st, and is being co-produced by Huntington Theatre. I haven't seen or heard anything that directly says it's intended for Broadway, granted I haven't looked that hard, but after what happened with Newsies, I wouldn't be surprised if Disney pulled this one out as a means of creating a production to sell the rights to for community/student purposes and then if it blows up the way Newsies did, might have a Broadway engagement.

But oh my goodness, look at it! It's the Broadway Lion King treatment applied to The Jungle Book and it looks like so much fun!

http://broadwayworld.com/videoplay.php?colid=525701
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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby Acaila » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:25 am

Interesting find! I hadn't heard anything at all about this either.
It certainly doesn't seem to be on the same sort of scale as Lion King or Little Mermaid, though it has an interesting look to it. I adore some of the costumes! Specifically Colonel Hathe and the vultures and the peacock. And a lot more Indian influences too, I wonder how that will work out.
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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby deHavilland » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:33 am

It looks sort of like Newsies: a really small production that could be blown up if necessary. Because that original Paper Mill Newsies was tiny, in fact even now Newsies is pretty compact. But I really love the way they translated it with the Indian influence, it looks sweet.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby Acaila » Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:06 am

It's an influence I think a lot of people forget about and that I don't think was too prominent in the film. Over here, I think that would go down pretty well, but I don't know how American audiences would be with a disconnect of their expectations.
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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby deHavilland » Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:28 am

I don't know, I don't think it's that different from what they did with the Lion King, heightening the African connection, and that went over gloriously. Though yeah, I think there's less India in the film then there is Africa in the Lion King.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 7:39 pm

Ooh, interesting! I was just thinking the other day about what a stage version of "The Jungle Book" might be like. (Though I do kinda wish they'd bring some more Kipling back into it... but more Indian influence is definitely welcome as well.) I'd be interested in seeing how this turns out and where it goes from here.

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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 8:02 pm

An actorfriend of mine is in it, and he is actually of South Asian derivation. (Nehal Joshi - name may be familiar to some of you from the Broadway LM revival.) I didn't have a chance to ask him in detail how it was going last I saw him - he was in town literally for a night to do a reading at Folger Shakespeare (a verbatim theatre piece about the Robbin Island Shakespeare - one of the few times I've seen any mention in the US of the South Asian diaspora community's participation in the struggle over there).

Not sure how I feel about the project being the Disney Jungle Book - a full-on Mary Zimmerman without their songs and their story arc would be more interesting to me, to be honest, and what I initially thought it was (because when you hear "Mary Zimmerman" and "Jungle Book", you don't automatically assume "Disney" - it's Mary Zimmerman at the Goodman). But the way Disney has gone about this, recruiting Zimmerman and the Goodman pushes it as a prestige production, not a heavily commercial production, which is interesting in itself.

There's also a really interesting interview she did with Silk Road Rising, after a writer there took reasonable offense at some lines from a Chicago Magazine interview that that interviewer took tremendously out of context. Jamil Khoury interview with Mary Zimmerman. I actually find this more interesting than mainstream press interviews.
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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby deHavilland » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:13 pm

MmeBahorel wrote:Not sure how I feel about the project being the Disney Jungle Book - a full-on Mary Zimmerman without their songs and their story arc would be more interesting to me, to be honest, and what I initially thought it was (because when you hear "Mary Zimmerman" and "Jungle Book", you don't automatically assume "Disney" - it's Mary Zimmerman at the Goodman). But the way Disney has gone about this, recruiting Zimmerman and the Goodman pushes it as a prestige production, not a heavily commercial production, which is interesting in itself.


This is why I wonder about a more long-term (Broadway) engagement. Disney has the money to do a quick one-off production, copyright the book and then sell the rights to high schools and community theatres, but it looks like they've pushed to make this actually quite good. The sets look like they remain more or less the same throughout and different effects are achieved through lighting rather than changes, but they look well fleshed-out, as do the costumes.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:57 pm

And it's Mary Zimmerman - I may have thought she completely screwed up Metamorphoses by not doing as much as she could have done (basically, I'd seen a better production the year before where a smaller theatre company with a smaller space and hardly any money built a better pool and used it more effectively), but her Candide was gorgeous. I wasn't as enthralled as a chunk of the audience by one particular piece of her staging, but that's because I could see it coming, as another company had done almost the same thing not long before in the same theatre, so I knew what the stage space looked like and how much was currently in use*. But the way she told the story, both in her rewritten book and visually, the use of ensemble and the fluidity of her storytelling, is compelling in itself. But her writing requires, if not her own direction, then a director equally adept at creating that sense of mysticism and awe and fluid storytelling. Something about the delivery of lines about the sea voyage to South America was as magical as any description of a transformation in Metamorphoses, and the very movement of a toy boat bobbing through the waves of an actress' skirt as she delivered the lines made more sense to me and was more beautiful in my memory than anything Zimmerman did in Metamorphoses, was the equal to the most magical transformations Allison Stockmann did in her Metamorphoses the previous year.

Basically, this is Mary Zimmerman. She performs beautiful beautiful magic on stage. And I can't believe she's actually choreographing "Bare Necessities" because this is so weird I can't even. (I missed Argonautika and even though I did not like her Metamorphoses, I'm still sort of kicking myself. Her Candide was that beautiful.)




*when Candide is banished from the home in Westphalia, the back wall collapses, leaving him in a huge, never-before-seen space. Tricycle had used the same effect in The Great Game: Afghanistan - the collapse of the World Trade Center is done via video projection onto a wall that for the prior two and a half parts of the show (it's a 9 hour show, basically - 3 parts) had been the rear wall of the stage. Similar purpose - it opens up what had been a shallow, enclosed playing space into a much bigger, open space, at some point with blue sky and clouds and fields of flowers. In both productions. To signal much the same ambivalence about what being open to the world means.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby MmeBahorel » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:11 pm

Well, let me rephrase a bit on Metamorphoses: it felt as if it was still locked into all the limitations of the original production when this time she was given a huge theatre in the round with voms on all four corners and a really, really deep stage well (they use elevators for set changes frequently and put the orchestra pit under the stage when doing musicals; there's a ton of space down there and I think it's on concrete slab). She had opportunities to really expand the use of the pool, but she kept to a fairly shallow pool with exits and entrances that were highly visible but done in a "pretend you can't see me" fashion. Either build out enough that you can enter and exit underwater (all they had to do was shield one of the voms and build the pool a bit wider and deeper) or make your exits and entrances really obvious - own that shit. The production was billed as Zimmerman herself reinterpreting her masterwork for a theater in the round for the first time, but there was no real reinterpretation. And ticket prices were twice as much as they had been for Allison Stockman's production the previous year, that managed to cram a five-foot deep pool into a 100 seat theatre and made me sob in ways Zimmerman's never even dreamed of because that pool and the live musician doing the backing made everything so much more magical.

It wasn't that I didn't like Metamorphoses; it was that the production I got was billed as something it wasn't, and I should have seen it first. As soon as I told people who had only seen it that I'd seen a production where the actors made exits and entrances underwater, people's faces fell. It was that obvious the production should have been done better with the given resources.

But her script is gorgeous and lyrical and the storytelling is so fluid, the words and tales really do flow like water. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing that when done well, makes me sob three or four times in about 90 minutes. A thing with nothing in common with Disney's The Jungle Book.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby Acaila » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:16 pm

She seems a ....rather random choice to adapt a Disney film for the stage :?
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
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Re: Disney's The Jungle Book

Postby MmeBahorel » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:26 am

The Chicago Tribune review is in, and maybe I do have an issue with Zimmerman, because the second paragraph is my problem with Metamorphoses - I cried at the end, but more because of the material, not because of her staging of it.

Room to Grow in Zimmerman's Rich 'Jungle Book'

Though I have to admit, if I lived in Chicago still, Larry Yando as Shere Khan would have me there regardless of reviews. His Pangloss was amazing. (Ok, so perhaps my affection for Shere Khan has way more to do with Talespin than with the actual movie, but Shere Khan is awesome in all incarnations and I would love to see Yando play the hell out of that role.)

Sun-Times liked it much better (to the point it sounds like a different show. It's a Jungle in There

And Time Out agrees in part with the Tribune but brings up some really interesting issues. The Jungle Book

I still wanna see Larry Yando as Shere Khan. Just maybe after further development based on these reviews.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard


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