Singing plants, dancing monkeys and marching elephants brought the jungle to Champaign-Urbana during Champaign Park District’s Youth Theatre production of Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids. The 30-person cast of children between the ages of 7 and 10 put on three performances of The Jungle Book Kids last week under the direction of Sarah Malone, CPD’s Youth Theatre program manager. The show was a 50-minute stage adaptation of the Disney film, replete with all the movie’s characters and songs, with some new songs thrown in, too.
Not only was it a fun show for the audience to watch – Noah Larson as Baloo and Saskia Bakker as Shere Khan were an absolute hoot! – but it provides a good opportunity for children who want to give theatre a go.
“They just had a blast,” said Jane Deluce, mom of Jordy, who played Shanti – the girl who brings ultimately brings Mowgli out of the jungle and into the “man village.” Jane added that she thinks the program is great and provides a theatre opportunity for younger children.
“There are very few opportunities for children to participate in theatre in our area,” Malone said. “There’s a lot of opportunities for middle school and high school, so we saw that need.”
Just this year, CPD’s Youth Theatre has added a year round theatrical season to meet the needs of the community. While the organization tends to do musicals, there is a play in store for later this season. Based on the popular children’s books, the play Cam Jansen and the Mystery of The Missing Eagle will open in October.
“We’re really trying to listen to what parents and the community want,” Malone said. “But we do have some kids interested in doing a play that doesn’t involve singing and dancing.”
The other plays this season are Disney’s Cinderella Kids, which has performances scheduled for July 16 and 17, and Guys and Dolls Jr., which will open in November.
“We just try to think about what our students would enjoy doing and what we can get an audience for, and there’s a great offering of musicals that have been reworked to be done by children so all the junior editions are a little bit shorter and more appropriate for that age group,” Malone said.
“They certainly have the opportunity to express themselves in a way they don’t get to do in a lot of classroom settings,” Malone said. “It’s really a change for them to use their creative side…it’s just a lot of fun!”
There are plenty of great reasons for children to take the stage, so sign your little ones up – check out the Champaign Park District’s website for more information.