Go wild with Kirk Players' production of 'The Jungle Book'

  • From left, Jeff Griffith as Shere Khan, Patrick Blake as Akela and Leandro Ocampo as Mowgli in the Kirk Players' production of "The Jungle Book."

    From left, Jeff Griffith as Shere Khan, Patrick Blake as Akela and Leandro Ocampo as Mowgli in the Kirk Players' production of "The Jungle Book." Courtesy Joe Shuman Photography

 
Submitted by The Kirk Players
Posted3/3/2020 1:39 PM

The Kirk Players are set to stage "The Jungle Book" by Joseph Robinette, based on "The Mowgli Stories" by Rudyard Kipling.

The spring children's show, opening at 7 p.m. Friday, March 27, at Mundelein High School auditorium, features young Rudyard (Xavier Nold) at his boarding school in England writing stories for a writing contest with his competitive classmates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He takes the audience into the jungle where they meet Mowgli, the "human cub," being raised by Akela, leader of the wolves, (Patrick Blake) and his loving mate (Barbara Selvaggio) and cubs (Sydney Vignocchi, Laura Lane, Layla Piland).

They encounter Shere Khan, a fierce tiger (Jeff Griffith), accompanied by Tabaqui, his quirky jackal sidekick (Marilee C.C. Rusiniak), who wants Mowgli for himself -- but is it as his tiger cub or as his meal?

The jungle comes alive with monkeys who run wild, the scholarly elephant Hathi (Amy Sharer), her little helper Scout (Trenton Mellen), the teacher bear Baloo (Nat Brautigam) and his panther assistant Bagheera (Cecilia Frievalt).

Zoe Van Krey, who attends Carl Sandburg Middle School, plays Kaa, the charming, hypnotic snake. When asked what excited her about being in Kirk Players' "The Jungle Book," she said, "It's a chance to move beyond my boundaries as an actress."

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Evelyn Gotschewski, who attends Fremont Intermediate School, plays the wolf Meg.

"I am super excited because I will be pretending to be a different animal and seeing everyone else being an animal," she said.

Shannon Ouimet, who attends Carl Sandburg Middle School, plays the monkey Blitzy and also assists in the monkeys' dance.

"I am most excited about getting to be in 'The Jungle Book' because the cast and crew have become my friends, which makes being in Kirk Players so much fun," Ouimet said.

Leandro Ocampo, who attends Carl Sandburg Middle School, plays Mowgli, the wolf boy.

"What don't I enjoy about being in Kirk Players' 'The Jungle Book'! The environment is welcome and joyful. It's very nice to come in as a newcomer," Ocampo said. "Everyone tries their best and more. They inspire me to go further with what I do. The physicality and slapstick of the show is built to make audiences laugh."

The management team consists of director Jon Matousek, assistant director Jenny Tomlin, technical director Jeff Harding, stage manager Jeanna Daebelliehn and assistant stage manager Jessica Rattanasena, who also plays Massua.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Producers Brenda Sparks, Meghan Lane and Franny Pollack provide children's show promotional program support.

Daebelliehn, who also choreographed the show, said, "This is a wonderfully talented cast that is bringing the story of Rudyard Kipling's 'The Jungle Book' to life in a beautiful way. I love how the play includes how Rudyard came to write the story.

"It has been a pleasure bringing choreography into this production. Dance has brought more connection to the characters. I would have to say the monkeys bring a lot of comedy to the show. The cast and the production team have been working hard, and I am loving how it is coming together," Daebelliehn said.

Other characters include, from the boarding school: Maxwell Dunlap as Fielding, Vance Mellen as Hanley, Martin Hill as Headmaster Price, Chuck Fitzhugh as Chaplain Willies, Jess Motyka as Mistress Crofts, Diego Chapa as Child Mowgli and Nayumi Nakayama as Dari.

Jungle animals include: Lisa Willems as Rann; wolves Meghan Lane, Lia Kagan, Morgan Brown, Faith Healy, Graham Earich and Bella Muir; and monkeys John Boehm, Caity Speer, Maggie McConville, Brady Rounds, Savannah Lynn, Chase Muir, Lucy Piland and Lilah Joy Potempa.

Children in the cast come from Carl Sandburg Middle School, Big Hollow Middle School, Frassati Catholic Academy, Hawthorn Elementary School North, Fremont School, Mechanics Grove Elementary School, Wauconda Middle School, Grayslake Central High School, Isaac Fox Elementary School, Emmons Grade School and West Oak School.

Technical expertise is provided by: set design, Brenda Sparks; special effects/properties, Gary Gunther; props mistress, Lulu Chapa; costume design, Susie Hill; lighting design, Chuck Fitz-Hugh and Martin Hill; sound design, Natalie La Voie; and makeup design, Lisa Willems.

Performances of "The Jungle Book" are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29.

Tickets may be purchased through Kirk Players' website, www.kirkplayers.org, or by calling (847) 521-6192. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

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