The jungle will come to life when Community Children’s Theatre (CCT) of the Peoria Park District presents its production of Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS. This toe-tapping musical opens December 9 and runs through December 11 at Peoria Player’s Theater.

The Jungle Book follows the adventures of Mowgli, a young boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India. He’s urged by his friend, Bagheera, a wise old panther, to seek safety in the man village. Feeling very much at home in the jungle, Mowgli resists and runs off. Much to Bagheera’s dismay, Mowgli meets a new friend with a happy-go-lucky philosophy of life, Baloo the Bear, a lovable “jungle bum.” Together, the three buddies find the journey back to civilization anything but civilized. They encounter many jungle creatures along the way, including the hypnotic and sly snake Kaa, and the menacing Shere Khan.

CCT’s production of Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS is jumping with jazz as the whole jungle comes to life on the stage. The musical is a song-filled celebration of friendship, fun, and adventure set in a lush and colorful world. Kids and adults alike will delight as they see all their favorite Jungle Book characters: Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera, King Louie, and the rest of the gang swinging their way through madcap adventures to thwart the ferocious tiger, Shere Khan. Specially adapted from the beloved film, this musical includes all of the favorite Disney tunes like “The Bare Necessities,” and “I Wanna Be Like You.”

This Disney classic will be brought to life by 53 of the most talented young performers from the Peoria area, ranging in age from eight to 18. Some of the young jungle cast will remember this as their first experience with Community Children’s Theatre. Other cast members, though still young in age, are already veterans to the stage.
Principal characters are Seth Hannon (Mowgli), Alicia Hinds (Shanti), Amanda Reed-Bishop (Baloo), Kyle Griffith (King Louie), Derek Heckman (Shere Kahn), Molly Smith (Bagheera), Alison Dixon (Kaa), and Willis Barber (Colonel Hathi).

In addition to the lively cast members, CCT is thrilled to have John Spencer returning as director for this winter’s musical. John directed The Hobbit two-and-a-half years ago for CCT. His experience in theater, as well as directing kids, makes him an exceptional director.

The production staff includes Youth Production Coordinators Laura Clark and Kathy Radovich, Musical Director Jerry Hyland, Costumer Alice Moore, Choreographer Peggy Breaux, Set Designer Jeana and Peter Fearon, Sound Designer Mike Burke, Lighting Designer Wayne Carey, and Stage Manager Candice Hogden.

Along with the production staff, John also has recruited the help of several older teens. CCT’s vision of giving kids a healthy experience in dramatics applies here as the magic you see on stage is supported by what you don’t see backstage. The teens involved backstage are wonderfully talented. They’re now sharing that talent with the new, younger kids cast in The Jungle Book as they help out behind the scenes.

The student assistants include Student Director Rebecca Maloney, Student Choreographer Catie Breaux, Stage Run Crew Emily Nicholson and Andrea Williams, and Student Lighting Tech and Makeup Assistant Jonathan Friday.

Community Children’s Theatre was founded in 1957 as a cooperative effort between the Peoria Park District and community volunteers dedicated to providing a healthy experience in dramatics for kids ages eight to 18 in the Peoria area. The program is planned and developed by an advisory board, with administrative support provided by Peoria Park District Fine Arts Coordinator Linda Elegant Huff. CCT currently produces two musicals each year.

CCT’s Production of Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS has colorful characters and jungle rhythms that make this show a crowd-pleaser for audiences of all ages. On behalf of these talented children and the Community Children’s Theatre, we invite you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season for a jungle adventure sure to please your whole family.

Show dates are December 9 to 11 at Peoria Players; the December 11 show will be interpreted for the hearing impaired. Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $6 for children and seniors. For more information, call 681-2861. AA!