Share this article

​Join Mowgli and his animal friends Bagheera and Baloo at the People’s Theatre, where the Disney adaptation of The Jungle Book starts a full year of fun.
SET against the backdrop of a mystical forest, with life-like trees and spooky sounds – home to Bagheera, Baloo, Kaa and Shere Khan – is the tale of young Mowgli and his friends.

The Frog PrinceThe Frog Prince is just one of the attractions at the People's Theatre This adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale of a boy and his jungle friends starts the 2012 line-up at the Joburg Theatre Complex’s People’s Theatre.

Directors Keith Smith and Jill Girard explain that the People’s Theatre has secured the performance rights to Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids and promise audiences will boogie to all the sing-alongs. The play runs from 5 March to 15 April.

An all-time children’s favourite, the stage adaptation is directed by Smith and Girard, who say: “This ensures that not only will South African audiences be entertained by the magic of Disney’s treatment of Kipling’s classic story, but the wonderful songs will bring all the essential ingredients that will make this a memorable experience.”

Christine Service, the country manager for The Walt Disney Company Africa, adds: “The Jungle Book is one of Disney’s most-loved properties in South Africa and we are thrilled that the People’s Theatre will be presenting it on stage as part of [its] children’s theatre programme.”

Smith and Girard have produced critically acclaimed children’s theatre for over 21 years, says the theatre, with sold-out successes such as Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, Noddy, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Rabbit and Other Tales, to mention a few. They “are set to take on another classic story and turn it into a spectacular theatre production”.

This tale has been a hit with children since Kipling first published his story in 1893. Now the People’s Theatre adaptation features a cast of professional actors and children who will weave their way through the jungle, capturing the imagination of audiences through interactive participation.

The cast includes Thabiso Tshabalala as Bagheera, Sean McGrath as Baloo, Sebe Leotlela as Kaa, Gavin Gomes as Shere Khan, as well as several children who will play various roles, such as that of Mowgli.

Resident set designer, Grant Knottenbelt, has added a number of dramatic changes to Marius Boshoff’s original jungle set. Smith will complete all the musical staging, while Linda Wilson will ensure that the costumes bring the characters to life.

“Our line-up this year is all about providing variety for children and also showing [that] wonderful, well-known children’s stories can be adapted to take on an all-new dimension when they are on stage,” says Girard, who believes theatre is a need and not a privilege.

The People’s Theatre caters to diverse audiences, though the majority are schoolchildren. Visiting school groups range from the affluent to township schools. It aims to be a place where children from different backgrounds can come together and discover the enjoyment of communication through drama and self-expression.

She adds: “The interaction, the costumes, the song and dance ensure that the live experience becomes something magical that every child should experience not just once, but many times in their lives.”

The rest of the year’s line-up is: The Gingerbread Man 2, Peter Rabbit and Other Tales, The Frog Prince and The Little Mermaid.

The Gingerbread Man 2, which will be on stage from 4 June to 2 August, is set on a giant kitchen dresser. Here, audiences will meet Herr Von Cuckoo, Salt, Pepper, the Old Bag, Sleek the Mouse and, of course, the Gingerbread Man.

Peter Rabbit and Other Tales and The Frog Prince will be on from September to October. Dates are still to be confirmed. And the last production of the year will be The Little Mermaid. Audiences will be taken on a magical underwater journey with Ariel, the young mermaid princess who longs to leave her watery home and venture on to dry land to marry her human prince.

Ticket prices have not all been confirmed. For bookings call the People’s Theatre on 011 403 1563 or visit the theatre complex’s website.

Related stories:

Joburg Theatre turns 50
Year of music at Joburg Theatre
Cultural face of Joburg
Soweto Theatre nearly ready