A Participant’s Perspective on the Alliance Theatre’s Production of ‘The Jungle Book’

It was a great experience to see the Alliance Theatre‘s production of The Jungle Book at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center, in Panthersville, at last.

The Jungle Book is my all time favorite story, because I loved watching it when I was 6. The Original 1967 Disney version, and the 1998 Version with Brandon Baker, called Mowgli’s Story. I was surprised to find it on Netflix, it brought back a lot of good memories for me.

The Jungle Book, Mowgli’s Story, (1998) on Netflix!

Even the new 2016 version is awesome too. I went to see it 4 times!
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This is a photo of The Jungle Book poster I took, after seeing it for the first time. 4/24/16

I was hoping Alliance could do the Jungle Book, and it finally happened! In January, on one of my internships I went on a behind the scenes look at the show.
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Drawing designs for the costumes.

When I finally went to see it, I was astonished! I saw how the amazing actors would use voices, bodies, costumes, and movement to tell the story. Because that’s what they do, as actors. And a little Puppetry was used in the play.

Poster of the scenes from the show.

In fact, it was as funny as a real barrel of monkeys!
I asked Johnathan Horne what the baby Mowgli puppet was made of – Johnathan Horne, who played Shere Khan, a man from the man village, and Rann, or Chill the Kite. He explained that people at the Center for Puppetry Arts volunteered with them – it was quickly built up with a wire frame, mattress stuffing, and fabric.
It was animated in a Bunraku style. That’s a Japanese technique of Puppetry where the puppeteer stands in full view of the audience, and it uses a little strings but mostly rods to control the character.
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Drawing design of the little puppet. 

It’s the same way the young actor who played Mowgli in the new 2016 movie Neel Sethi had experienced, puppets being performed in front of a blue screen.
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Photo of The Jungle Book 2016 Behind the Scenes, with Neel Sethi interacting with the puppeteers in front of a blue screen.

As I mentioned in an email I sent to the Alliance Jungle Book director, I asked the young actor who played Mowgli, Caleb Baumann, and who also controlled the baby Mowgli puppet, what experience he had when he was playing the main character. And, he said it was a great experience. He said that Mowgli was his favorite character in the Jungle Book, and he’s mine too! I don’t know why, but I find it amazing for a boy who lives in the wild, and talks to animals. As a boy I was dreaming he would be my friend.
After the last question was answered, the actress, Ashley Anderson, who played Shere Khan’s sidekick, Tabaqui the jackal, asked if she could take a selfie of themselves with the audience. I happily got in the shot. It was amazing that I got in the selfie with actors who were doing a play on my all time favorite story!
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Shot I took of the stage, after the selfie was taken.

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Poster of the cast of the show.

On the way out of the Men’s restroom, I saw Caleb Baumann out in the hall and I told him I thought he was terrific, and he said, “Why Thank you!” And we shook hands! He was very nice. I do wish they could perform it again like a rerun sometime.
It was an extraordinary experience for me.
– Joseph Allen Conte

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