NEW YORK -- The latest classic Disney animated feature to get a stage-musical makeover, The Jungle Book, will see its first curtain go up on June 21 at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.
Adapted and directed by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses), the show is based on Rudyard Kipling's 1893 collection of fables set in the Indian jungle, and the 1967 Walt Disney animated film. Cast in the coming-of-age story as Mowgli, the abandoned "man cub" raised by animals, is 10-year-old newcomer Akash Chopra.
The musical includes "The Bare Necessities" and other songs from the Disney feature, as well as unused additional numbers and new tunes by Richard Sherman, who composed the film's song score with his late brother Robert. A workshop video on the Goodman website shows how traditional Indian instrumentalists will be folded together with jazz musicians in the production's orchestra.
Also featured in the show's 30-member ensemble cast are frequent Zimmerman collaborator Anjali Bhimani, Broadway veteran Andre De Shields, Usman Ally, Kevin Carolan, Tommy Derrah and Larry Yando. Choreography is by Christopher Gattelli, who won a Tony for his athletic dance work on Disney's current Broadway hit, Newsies.
The project was developed by Zimmerman and is being produced at the Goodman by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions.
The Chicago engagement is set to play through Aug. 4. The production will then segue to the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, running Sept. 7-Oct. 6. While no plans beyond those stops have been announced, it's safe to assume that backers will be eyeing the production for touring and possible Broadway potential.