Review: Huntington Theatre Company’s ‘The Jungle Book’

Huntington Theatre Company The Jungle Book

Though “The Jungle Book” has many good moments, the Huntington Theatre Company’s latest production lacks the magic that should sweep you out of your seat and onto an enchanting journey to an exotic land.

This adaptation of the 1967 Disney film (and stories of Rudyard Kipling) feels more like a series of loosely connected vignettes than a captivating tale of a young boy’s adventure. Some are great, some not so much, but they all suffer from a lack of continuity.

For starters, the setup feels awkward. When Mowgli, the little boy (man-cub) at the center of the story, first encounters the wolves, there’s a scene in which they howl gratingly — and for far too long. It’s a family-friendly musical, perhaps a catchy song would have done the trick?

As Mowgli wanders through the jungle, he encounters a series of animals, each offering a life lesson that will lead him to the human village. Among the best of these meetings is with Baloo the bear (Kevin Carolan) whose “Bare Necessities” is one of the show’s finest, and most engaging, musical moments.

The real showstopper, however, belongs to King Louie (Andre De Shields), the leader of the mischievous group of monkeys who kidnap Mowgli. The Broadway vet and company elder statesman nearly blows the roof off the place with “I Wanna Be Like You” itself worth the price of admission.
While the set is lacking in inspiration, Mara Blumenfeld’s costumes are, at times, breathtaking. The show also boasts phenomenal musicians that deliver blues with a wonderful Indian twist.

Even the Bollywood-style finale, however, isn’t enough for “Jungle Book” to be more than a pleasant, yet inconsistent, journey.


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