In The Jungle, The Noisy Jungle
Review of Queen's College Middle School production of The Jungle Book
Mowgli, Baloo and friends scored a giant hit with Queen's College's Middle School Play in the newly refurbished Queen's Hall which now comfortably seats nearly 500.
The evening began on an altruistic note with a tasty Indian themed pre-show curry event which was held in aid of Water Aid.
Against Sarah Oxley's delightful set a whole host of beautifully and innovatively costumed characters crawled, slithered, growled, howled, scampered and (in the case of three hilarious vultures holding a 'Stitch and Bitch' party!) perched.
Director Jane Evans took the audience on a colourful and tuneful journey through the Indian rainforest. The opening scene featuring the wolf pack and a real baby Mowgli -played by an impeccably behaved Freya Brierley, who can't be older than two and drew audible 'Aaaah's' from the audience. From then on we were all hooked in to the story of the 'man-cub' raised by wolves. And what's not to love about it? All the cuddly and not so cuddly characters from Kipling's original with the Disney songs of all our childhoods beautifully and enthusiastically sung by a talented and energetic cast.
Mowgli -who looked exactly like the Disney version- was played with great comic flair by Harrison Oakley (he's bound to go far with a name like that!)
Baloo the Bear (Will Thurston) was traditionally childlike and funny playing opposite Barnaby Harrison's wise and sensible Bagheera the Panther. Both kept the pace going and coped admirably with some of the big numbers (Bear Necessities was a highlight).
A very frightening Shere Kahn (played authoritatively by James Winter) was there to make the journey more tense along with a mischievous comedy sidekick Tabaqui The Hyena (Jamie Wilson) who prowled amongst the audience berating one poor gentleman for having no 'fur' on the top of his head!
The mesmeric snake Kaa was so beautifully inventive I was almost hypnotised myself. Twelve sari-clad dancers who spoke and hissed as one and carried a beautifully colourful cloth serpent. The first half ended on an exotic choreographed 'Bollywood' number featuring all of the girls.
Jason Baldacchino's hilarious King Louie brought more fun to the stage with Kipling's poetry being performed as a rap with the apes 'from-da-hood'. This was followed up with an insanely catchy 'Wanna Be Like You..hoo..hoo!" which I have to confess I couldn't resist singing along to.
The wonderfully costumed Elephants completed the menagerie with a great comic marching routine.
And as for those vultures; Betsy Shepherd, Daniella Smith and Sarah Mudge dealt so expertly with the string of gags on the scavenging theme that the audience were almost helpless with laughter. In fact the elderly couple next to me were in such hysterics, I became concerned that I might need to call for a paramedic!
Director Jane Evans and MD Andrew Garton can be justifiably proud of a superb team effort. It was..... a school play Jim....but not as we know it!"
For further pictures, please visit this link - Jungle Book Photos