Audiences have had to wait for quite a while to see the Oldham Coliseum production of children’s favourite The Jungle Book – two years, to be precise; but the production will finally appear at the theatre for Easter.
In fact this is quite a diversion from the Colieum’s usual programme: Jungle Book will be the first family show the Oldham theatre – renowned for its annual pantomime, which has just picked up three nominations at the British Panto Awards – has produced outside the Christmas period in over a decade.
The show (April 7-24), is based on Rudyard Kipling’s famous stories – probably better known from the Disney reproductions than the original texts – of man-cub Mowgli, his wolf pack and friends Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther in a classic coming of age story packed with songs, humour and brilliant storytelling.
The design of the Coliseum’s production is a meeting of worlds, set in an “urban jungle” playground on which the cast will climb and swing throughout the show.
The cast features Tamara Verhoven Clyde as Akela the wolf leader, Kaa the snake and Leela the wolf cub, Ebony Feare as Mowgli’s wolf mother Raksha, Neil Hurst as Baloo the bear, Jason Patel as Mowgli and Tarek Slater as Mowgli’s wolf father Hiran and Mugger the monkey – all returning to rehearsals from 2020, with Gareth Morgan and Sam Yetunde as Shere Khan and Bagheera.
First programmed for the spring of 2020, the production was one of dozens forced to close due to lockdown, and was actually in rehearsal when the closure was announced.
Director Sarah Punshon said: “We’re all excited to get our teeth back into this fantastic story. We were having so much fun two years ago and I’m delighted so many of the original cast members have been able to come back. I’m also thrilled Gareth and Sam have joined us. It’s going to be a blast!”
Info and tickets here