Goodman Theatre's The Jungle Book Digs Deep But Still Has Fun
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 5, 2013 3:15PM
Akash Chopra (Mowgli) and Usman Ally (Bagheera) in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre.
The Goodman Theatre's version of The Jungle Book is Disney-approved, yet contains more of the deeper heart of Rudyard Kipling's stories. Mary Zimmerman's adaptation for the stage does an excellent job of bringing enough ebullient vibrancy for both kids and adults while adding in some real notes of deep emotion to keep the production grounded. This musical could have easily gone the way of just turning into a shallow mix song and dance to appease the mass market but a few real chances taken sidestep that danger.
Christopher Gatelli's choreography is kinetic and acrobatic, with enough weirdness within to keep the whole affair feeling wild, actually evoking the animal instincts it's meant to reflect. The music is a true joy, and music director Doug Peck has ingrained traditional Indian instrumentation into a score that merges those elements seamlessly with the more traditional original jazz arrangements. The same through-line carries into the costuming as traditional Indian garb is adapted into the animals' personalities, providing the actors much room to work their wiles on the audience.
Akash Chopra (Mowgli) and Kevin Carolan (Baloo) in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s new musical adaption of The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre.
We walked into The Jungle Book fearing a classic would either be watered down to please the blandest palate or so twisted into unrecognizable abstractions to evoke the avant garde, but what we discovered was that The Goodman Theatre's production is one that should please all parties without pandering to any.
The Jungle Book
runs through August 4 UPDATE: The show has been extended through Sunday, August 18. at The Goodman Theatre, 170 N Dearborn, ticket prices vary