Nothing gets you through a dangerous jungle full of creatures trying to make a meal out of you like friends.
That’s what Mowgli, the man cub raised by wolves, learns in Disney’s “The Jungle Book,” presented by El Dorado Musical Theatre’s Rising Stars, actors ages 6 to 14, July 11-20.
“There’s a song called ‘That’s What Friends are For’,” said Director Debbie Wilson. “That’s the whole theme of the show.”
In “The Jungle Book” Mowgli’s lost in the jungle as a baby and taken in by a pack of wolves. But as he grows (with noticeably less fur than his brothers) and the fierce tiger Shere Khan makes his way back to the jungle, it’s apparent the place he’s called home is no longer safe and he must rejoin humans.
Enter Baloo — the lovable bear who teaches Mowgli about “The Bear Necessities” — and Bagheera — a watchful black panther who keeps Mowgli out of trouble (most of the time).
“It’s just a fun adventure that this boy goes on,” Wilson said.
Actors Hunter Clary, 11, and Nick Ribadeneira, 12, go on that adventure as Mowgli. The show features two casts — Fire and Rain.
Both boys, who also shared the same role in EDMT’s spring production of “The Music Man,” said they love everything about playing Rudyard Kipling’s main character as adapted for the musical. Though, they confessed, getting used to the costume takes a little time; Mowgli doesn’t wear much on stage.
“It was a little strange for me,” Hunter confessed.
But always professionals — this is Nick’s eighth EDMT show and Hunter’s third — the two said they’ll be ready when the curtain rises on opening night.
Another cast member who will be ready is Stephen Noble, 14, who’s taken on double duty as Baloo in both casts.
“He’s kind of this crazy, crazy character but he can be serious when he needs to be,” Noble said of Mowgli’s pal.
Noble has been in 10 or 11 EDMT shows (he’s lost count) and said he enjoys Baloo’s personality and the physicality of the role.
With a mostly animal cast, many of the actors have had to rethink the way they move on stage. They act like people as the characters are anthropomorphized, Wilson explained, but move like monkeys, tigers, bears, buzzards and other jungle creatures.
This is the second time EDMT has brought “The Jungle Book” to the stage, but the first time Wilson has sat in the director’s chair. She modeled this production after one done at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, which used Indian-inspired costumes that present “the suggestion of the animals” rather than having actors wear furry costumes that look exactly like the animals.
“Bagheera gets to wear this whole ‘Matrix’ type coat that’s very cool,” Wilson said, adding that all the costumes for this production were specially made — no small feat for two casts totaling about 130 actors.
The audience will also notice vivid animate backgrounds created by EDMT stage veteran Zach Wilson. Older brother Andrew Wilson, also well-know in leading roles, is the musical’s assistant director. This is a role he’s played for about four years and said he always learns something new and enjoys working with the younger actors.
“I’ve had such a wealth of knowledge passed on to me,” Andrew said. “I really like being able to pay it forward and keep the traditions alive.”
Fire cast: Mowgli (Nick Ribadeneira), Baloo (Stephen Knoble), Bagheera (Kyra Schneider), Kaa (Isabelle Weaver), Colonel Hathi (Stefan Grimenstein), King Louie (Maya Ribadeneira), Shere Khan (Lindsey Hunter), Baby Elephant (Tristan Russell), Winnifred (Taylor Walczykowski), Elephant 2 (Cooper Renshaw), Monkey 1 (Hannah Milton), Monkey 2 (Farah Abou-Taleb), Rama (Chase Franklin), Akela (Brayden Bambino), Shanti (Tara Castle), Mother Wolf (Jenna Williams); Vultures — Flaps (Riley Price), Ziggy (Zak Marchek), Buzzy (Seth Marchek), Dizzy (Kiki Iden), Biffo (Sofia Grimenstein), Fred (Jocelyn Haney); The Flock — Abbie Disney, Alexandra Fallavollita, Aurora Giacobbe, Brooke Disney, Emily Fritz, Emily Hobbs, Haley Dean, Jessica McCloskey, Justine Majewski and Maggie Enriquez; Jungle animals — Alex de los Santos, Alexa Rodgers, Alexis McFarland, Andrew Stokhaug, Caitlin Snyder, Charlotte Spencer, Charlotte Stokhaug, Demetrius Drum, Elizabeth Easterbrook, Emily Robinson, Julianne Yonano, Joshua Stabe, Kimberly Drever, Kylie Caggiano, Lanna Moore, Laxmi Devi Das, Leyla Soltani, Madeline Coulombe, Madeline Yacur, Melissa Vogel, Morgan Hartman, Nora Abou-Taleb, Olivia McFarland, Owen Gillick, Phoebe Yonano, Quinn Sammon, Rachel Cabral, Saige Edwards, Serene Batarseh, Taylor Ferry, Treston Fallavollita and William Gillick.
Rain cast: Mowgli (Hunter Clary), Baloo (Stephen Knoble), Bagheera (Lindsay Alhady), Kaa (Kori Tosta), Colonel Hathi (Russell Anderson), King Louie (Brooke Bollengier), Shere Khan (Selma Gebhardt), Baby Elephant (Miranda Garver), Winnifred (Mackenzie Haar), Elephant 2 (Jessica Garver), Monkey 1 (Claire Bao), Monkey 2 (Jordan Clary), Rama (Carson Beards), Akela (Ty Rhoades), Shanti (Megan Fite), Mother Wolf (Madeline L’Engle); Vultures — Flaps (Annika Tamaki), Ziggy (Ariel Sonenstein), Buzzy (Joshua Davis), Dizzy (Linnea Tamaki), Biffo (Madison Jantzen), Fred (JJ Bryant); The Flock —Daphne Huegel, Emma Magnuson, Hannah Davis, Hannah Hurst, Hannah Tufts, Jessica Cain, Jordan Soto, Kelsey Fairchild, Laura Roberts and Victoria Fay; Jungle animals —Addison Warmerdam, Aidan Warmerdam, Alyssa Stafford, Aubrey Engstrom, Bella Dondershine, Brigette Dupre, Dylan Dupre, Elizabeth Lowry, Emma Binford, Emma Warmerdam, Gabby Magnuson, Jamilee Alhady, Kate Shill, Katherine Davies, Katie Dalessi, Kaylee Ambler, Lana Skye Wright, Lars Osen, Lauren Grindstaff, Lauren Ortiz, Malia Saez, Matthew Davies, Michael Jantzen, Riley Foreman, Sam Kallan, Sarah Dalessi, Shay Clary, Sheylie Capanna, Sophia Kallan, Suzette Dupre, Sydney L’Engle, Trevor Ashby and Zoe Harding.
“The Jungle Book’s music and lyrics are by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman and Terry Gilkyson with additional lyrics and book adaptation by Marcy Heisler and music adapted and arranged by Bryan Louiselle. EDMT’s production is directed by Debbie Wilson with associate director Andrew Wilson, choreographer Kat Bahry assistant choreographer Anjie Rose Wilson, vocal director Samantha Arrasmith and costume Christine Martorana.
Dates & Details
“The Jungle Book” presented by El Dorado Musical Theatre opens at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 11, and continues through Sunday, July 20, with both evening (7 p.m.) and matinee (2 p.m.) performances. The musical will be performed on Stage One at Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway on the Folsom Lake College campus. Purchase tickets online at harriscenter.net or from Harris Center ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket.