Adapted by Monica Flory and based on the stories by Rudyard Kipling, Valley Youth Theatre’s rendition of “The Jungle Book” provided an entertaining and humorous show. Produced by artistic director, Bobb Cooper directed by Lauren Antioco, the play was splendidly put together.
Right before the play started, the younger children in the audience were told to sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the stage. This production of “The Jungle Book” was clearly meant for a younger crowd but was still enjoyable for all ages.
Although some of the costumes were a tad cheesy, Karol Cooper did a superb job with their design and the majority were impressive. The costumes for the Black Kites were especially wonderful; the wings almost seemed authentic. The face masks, designed by Ashley Gamba and Sandi Long, were also quite convincing.
While all the actors did a satisfactory job, the younger actors who played Mowgli, Trout and especially Tabaqui had amazing performances. The audience seemed to be laughing at every line that these child actors performed.
Fifth grader Vincent Jacovo played Mowgli, the main character of “The Jungle Book.” It seems as though Valley Youth Theatre is already becoming too small a venue for him. His emotion throughout the play seemed so genuine.
Trout, played by seventh grader Ethan Shanker, was getting laughs from the audience left and right. At the beginning of the play, he lacked confidence in his lines, but once the audience started laughing, he became fearless in his performance.
Josh Pike’s performance as Tabaqui was truly convincing, and he came off as a professional child actor. A home-schooled fourth grader, Pike’s persona and sense of humor was incredible.
Although he didn’t have the lead, Pike was clearly the star of the show, embodying a confidence and stage presence that exceeded many far older actors.
Although the boys dominantly ruled the show, the girls had admirable performances as well. Katy Sprowls, a high school freshman, did exceptionally well in her role as Kaa, an intimidating snake that almost frightened the audience. She had evident confidence throughout her performance.
“The Jungle Book” at Valley Youth Theatre is a play for all ages, but especially children. Tickets are inexpensive and show dates and times are frequent. The play will continue through Feb. 23 in downtown Phoenix. This production would be an ideal family outing, but it also letting audience members reconnect with some their favorite childhood characters.
Check out Valley Youth Theatre online for ticket information.
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