One of literature’s most enduring classics will be brought vividly to the stage by the STAGES Youth Theatre Company this Friday.
The Jungle Book is the story of Mowgli, a young boy who is raised by wolves and befriended by jungle creatures. Filled with excitement and humour, the play highlights the struggle of good versus evil, the worth of friendship and the importance of loyalty and other values required for surviving the Law of the Jungle.
STAGES Youth Theatre, a Portal Players Dramatic Society program, is a comprehensive theatre experience designed for students. Each year, students combine the elements of acting and behind-the-scenes work to bring a play to the Capitol Theatre stage.
This is the first year that students will be running the whole show.
“They’re doing phenomenal,” said director and STAGES instructor Teresa Drew. “The show is going to be amazing.”
Each of the actors has another behind-the-scenes job, such as production, set design, sounds or makeup.
16-year-old Lennon Chase, for example, is in charge of props, but is also playing three different characters: the stoic elephant Hathi, a young wolf cub and a wild monkey.
“They’re three very different parts,” he said.
15-year-old Morgan Schoen is playing the hero Mowgli, but she is also in charge of sound.
“It’s great because you get to make the mood of the play,” she explained. “With the director’s help, of course.”
17-year-old Niklaus Treleaven has stepped up to take on the responsibility of stage manager. He has had experience stage managing Portal Players shows before this, but he says it’s still a large role.
“We’re all working really hard,” he said. “Everyone is doing their absolute best, and they’re all really talented.”
16-year-old Gabrielle Eyford is part of the production team, but she will also be playing the villainous tiger Shere Khan. “We all made playlists and vision boards to get into character,” she explained.
“Nothing gets you into character faster than music,” Drew added with a laugh.
Students have also been watching animal videos, and incorporating this into the show. It will involve a lot of “really good physical comedy,” said Drew.
Drew tries to choose a different kind of play for the students every year. Last year, STAGES put on a production of Anne of Green Gables that had an extensive set, costume changes and a long run time.
“It’s quite a bit less complicated than that,” said Drew. This production, she pointed out, has a minimal set, as well as a shorter show. “It’s still a lot of work, as every show is,” she added.
Written by Joseph Robinette, this adaptation of The Jungle Book will be closer to the original collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling, rather than the Disney movie.
“There will be no singing,” Drew laughed.
But the STAGES production will also be unique. The original play is male-heavy, so the genders of certain characters have been changed.
“There are so many empowering female characters in this play,” said Schoen. “There’s a big female presence, and I’m really excited about it.”
The students have been fundraising throughout the year for a 2019 trip to London. During the show, British chocolate bars will be available for purchase to help with this cause.
“We put a lot of hard work into this show,” said Eyford. “It’s going to be really good, and we’re all really excited.”
There will be four 7:30 p.m. shows at the Capitol Theatre on April 13, 14, 20 and 21, as well as two 2 p.m. matinee showings on April 15 and 22. Tickets are available at the box office, at the Rollin Art Centre or at atthecapitol.org.