‘Jungle Book’ opens, audiences cheer, at Parkrose High school

The first performances of the school’s spring musical were met with enthusiasm. Take a look at this story and photo album and see why your family – even little kids – will enjoy this show …

Bagheera a wise black panther (Jacob Pratt) and the sleepy, easy-going Baloo the Bear (Steven Ennis) help Mowgli the human “cub” (Jacquelle Davis) learn the “Law of the Jungle” in their production of “The Jungle Book” that runs through May 17.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
At a time when the arts are struggling just to stay part of local schools’ curricula, Parkrose High has a vigorous and imaginative drama program, and one example of that is about to appear on stage – open to the public – and you are invited!

Audience members laughed and cheered Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe #1783 at opening show of their production of “The Jungle Book”, this week.

“Am I a frog?” Mowgli wonders.

Featuring a cast of 41 student actors, singers and dancers – this lively, fast-paced show is unites songs, dance numbers, and audience interaction, and plays out in a colorful setting. Little kids will enjoy this show as much as adults.

“This isn’t the Disney cartoon version,” said Ms. Zena, theater instructor at Parkrose High. “In fact, this original adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Mowgli’ story, by Mila Johanson, is truer to the author’s original short stories. Although Kipling wrote the stories on which this show is based more than century ago, our production brings in modern elements that connect with today’s audiences.”

Are these hyenas laughing at Mowgli – or with her?

The story …
The Jungle Book follows the story of a child, Mowgli (played by Jacquelle Davis), who is raised in the jungles of India by Bagheera, a wise black panther (played by Jacob Pratt), and a sleepy, goofy bear named Baloo (played by Steven Ennis).

Mowgli runs away with a band of monkeys – only to be held captive by them. Will the cunning rock python Kaa (played by Vctoria Kerr) help rescue Mowgli? Will all of the animals in the jungle learn they are truly “brothers of one blood”? Come see this show and find out!

The sly rock python, Kaa (played by Vctoria Kerr) tells Mowgli it is safe to be around here – she only eats once a week. “It’s only been five days …”

An interactive show
During the performance, some folks watching the show said they were both surprised and delighted to see the characters go out into the theater and interact with the audience.

“This is a fun show, with original, catchy music – people will walk away singing songs. It’s very bright and upbeat, and has positive messages for people of every age,” Zena added.

The monkey tribe promises to make Mowgli their leader if she comes with them – but instead, they hold her prisoner.

The “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” production number showcases acrobatic dance steps by many cast members.

Show for all ages
The full-stage set is beautiful – transforming the Parkrose High School Theater into a jungle wonderland. It was built and decorated by 40 students working or theater operations manager Terry Franceschi. Lighting effects effectively highlight the story as it unfolds.

The live musical score, played under the baton of the school’s band instructor, Michael Tolon, helps move the story along. And, appropriately-chosen recorded music effectively punctuates a dance number featuring an awakening jungle lion.

“While it is a sophisticated production,” said Zena, “this truly is a show for the entire family. We hope our community will come out and have a wonderful time with our cast and crew.”

You’ll never see more jazzy frogs than these!

Runs through May 17
There is a special matinee performance on Saturday, May 10 at 2:00 p.m. (no evening show on this date).

Or, plan to come early to get your tickets for the 7:00 p.m. curtain time on May 15, 16 or 17 for these evening performances.

The price is right; tickets at the door are: adults are $8; $5 for those 18 & under or 65+. It’s at the Parkrose High School Theater, 12003 NE Shaver St., near NE 122nd Avenue.

This colorfully staged production of a classic story has elements that appeal to audience members of all ages.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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