Chicago's Goodman Theatre has released the complete cast list for its upcoming world premiere musical adaptation of The Jungle Book, with direction by Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses). Based on Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling's 1893 collection of short stories, as well as the 1967 animated Disney film, the show will run at the Goodman from June 21-July 28 before transferring to Boston's Huntington Theatre from September 7-October 6.
Ten-year-old Akash Chopra will star as the pugnacious young orphan Mowgli, alongside Usman Ally as the cunning panther Bagheera, Elena Flores as loving Mother Wolf Raksha (Anjali Bhimani will take over the role in Boston), and Kevin Carolan as Baloo the bear. Also featured in the cast will be Glory Curda as the Little Girl, Thomas Derrak as the python Kaa, André De Shields as King Louie, Nehal Joshi as the wolf leader Rama, and Larry Yando as the villainous tiger, Shere Khan. Nikki Graff Lanzarone, Monique Haley, Ed Kross, Govind Kumar, Alka Nayyar, Geoff Packard, Timothy Wilson, and Victor Wisehart join the company.
"Working with Mary Zimmerman as she and her astonishing team begin to bring the show to life has been a joy," said president of Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher, who is lending financial support for the production. "As this cast of world-class stage actors proves, she has always attracted the very best theatre collaborators and we cannot wait to see what they'll conjure."
Music director Doug Peck is collaborating on the score with Richard M. Sherman, one of the composers for the 1967 film. Together they will be adapting songs from the film as well as unused songs. "Favorites like ‘The Bare Necessities' and ‘Trust in Me' will make great appearances," said Peck. "‘Colonel Hathi' will probably feel like a musical/dance highlight — one of the biggest moments — and ‘Baloo's Blues' will be the debut of a new piece of material."
The production will feature a 12-piece orchestra with both jazz and Indian influences including Victor Garcia on trumpet, Shivalik Ghoshal on table, Ronnie Malley on percussion, Nick Moran on woodwinds, Saraswathi Ranganathan on veena, and Anuradha Sridhar on violin.
Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies) also plans to work with Hema Rajagopalan (founder and artistic director of Chicago's Natya Dance Theatre) on the production's choreography. Additional members of the creative team include Daniel Ostling (scenic design), Mara Blumenfeld (costume design), and T.J. Gerckens (lighting design). Josh Horvath, Ray Nardelli, and Andre Pluess will collaborate on sound design.