'Jungalbook' ripe with lessons

It is the law of the jungle: Kill or be killed.

Those who attended Sunday's matinee performance of "Jungalbook," staged by Kansas University Theatre for Young People, learned this and other jungle laws.

"Jungalbook," adapted by Edward Mast from Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" and "The Second Jungle Book," is the tale of Mowgli, a human raised in the jungle after the tiger Sherakhan kills Mowgli's parents. Mowgli grows up in a "three-person wolf pack" and learns about love and friendship.

Director Dennis Christilles cast mostly women in a play that typically is predominantly male. Bagheera (Julia Elise Hardin), the panther, stole the show. Her sleek, graceful movements make her character convincing. Her speech and poise give her an elegant, superior queen-of-the-jungle air. Her costume of black pants, shirt and jacket accompanied by a purple scarf flows as well as her diction and movement.

Erica Danielle Crane took on the role of Mowgli. Her petite frame is deceiving because her voice is enormous. Crane's portrayal of Mowgli is appealing because when accompanied by the wolf pack, she crawls like a wolf, and when she is learning jungle lessons from Baloo, she ambles like a bear.

The young audience had the most fun watching Alvaro Berg as the Puppet Master. Berg portrays different animals -- from an elephant to a vulture -- giving each a unique voice, which he sometimes achieves through electronic alteration. This became a problem when the microphones began fading in and out, sometimes making the voice alteration sound more like gibberish.

-- Meredith Carr is a Kansas University student majoring in journalism.


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