Mowgli swings to Balboa Park


by Brittney Pickei

The world of the legendary novel, “The Jungle Book” will be coming to life at San Diego State April 25 through May 4at the Don Powell Theatre in a new version titled “Jungle Book.” The story originally written by Rudyard Kipling, is being directed by Margaret Larlham.

Larlham has a background of developing her plays around pieces of classic children’s literature aimed at audiences of all ages. Her plays generally involve a heavy theater base with musical prominence. Some of her most popular shows include “Symphony of Clouds: Musical Adventures of the Boy Mozart,” “Squawk!” and “Peter Pan & Wendy.”

Larlham’s version of “The Jungle Book” should be filled with suspense, visual inventiveness and adventure. A fresh aspect is that Larlham’s vision takes place in San Diego’s beautiful urban cultural park, Balboa Park.

The hero, Mowgli, is a young boy who’s raised by courageous wolves. He becomes close friends with a black panther named Bagheera and Baloo a bear, who both provide Mowgli with wisdom and teach him how to survive in his strange environment.

Unfortunately, his pals can’t always shield him from danger. Eventually, Mowgli has to face the wrath of the devious and brutally vicious bengal tiger, Shere Khan.

Kaa, the snake, will also play a part in Larlham’s rendition. Whether he’s portrayed as a companion, like he was in the book, or a villain, similar to the Disney animated film, will be revealed in the actual production.

In a modern twist, “Jungle Book” deals with the negative effects of global warming. This presents the great danger of a drought occurring, putting all of the animals’ lives in peril. Larlham’s fresh idea could make this family-friendly journey edgy as well as thought-provoking.

Larlaham’s “Jungle Book” might be aimed at younger audiences, but the timely message and stagecraft will likely make it a first-rate spectacle that will appeal to kids and adults alike.

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Photo courtesy of Margret Larlham