Jungle springs to life in Anoka Children’s Theatre production

Who knew there was a jungle teeming with life in Anoka?

Anoka Children’s Theatre production of Disney’s “The Jungle Book Kids” will be performed March 21 through 24. Among the cast are, left to right, Jake Vidervol (Baloo), Nathan Culley (Mowgli), Jake Johnston (King Louie), Graham Hanson (Bush), Korina Lantz (Monkey) and Julia Peterson (Baby Elephant). Photo submitted

Anoka Children’s Theatre production of Disney’s “The Jungle Book Kids” will be performed March 21 through 24. Among the cast are, left to right, Jake Vidervol (Baloo), Nathan Culley (Mowgli), Jake Johnston (King Louie), Graham Hanson (Bush), Korina Lantz (Monkey) and Julia Peterson (Baby Elephant). Photo submitted

Anoka Children’s Theatre brings a vivacious wilderness to Anoka Middle School for the Arts’ stage when a cast of 37 kids turn into bushes, trees, prickly pears, vultures, birds and flowers in a musical production of Disney’s “The Jungle Book Kids.”

Not enough of a jungle for you? There’s more.

How about elephants, a mongoose, leopard, panther, tiger, bear and monkeys swinging with madcap adventure? Oh, yeah. One giant snake, embodied by five children actors, will slink its way onto stage for the audience’s viewing pleasure.

“This is truly Disney’s version of ‘The Jungle Book,’” said LeAnn Snidarich, who co-directs the production along with choreographer Judy Trempe.

Set any time in a jungle in India, a tree made of papier-mâché, fabric and wire, nearly 18 feet high and perfect for climbing kids, will dominate the stage.

Expect singing, creative movement, layered costumes a la forest greenery and just plain fun in this hour and 15 minute show.

Snidarich encourages young audience members to attend. It’s a perfect show, especially with the length, nonstop action and upbeat music, to introduce kids to theater, she said.

But the production, with music reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s, is for all ages.

Among songs featured are “The Bare Necessities,” “Trust in Me,” “I Wanna’ Be Like You,” and “That’s What Friends are For.”

Elaine Johnson is music director, with help from Snidarich.

The show is based on Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman and Terry Gilkyson. Additional lyrics by Marcy Heisler. Book adapted by Heisler.

In addition to learning their lines and honing their acting skills, the young ACT thespians in grades four through eight, researched India to better understand the story, set and their characters. They studied animals from India, how they move, react. They learned about their natural habitat.

ACT is part of Anoka-Hennepin School District’s Anoka Community Education fine arts program. The group performs one production a year.

The theater’s first production in 1990 was “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Since the first show, cast size has ranged from 20 to 52. Audiences have grown from 100 to more than 3,000 patrons.

ACT is the recipient of a 2008 Project Award from the Minnesota Community Education Association.

“I just think it’s going to be so entertaining for any age,” Snidarich said about the theater’s Disney production.

“We want everyone to come and see the jungle in Anoka.”

The Anoka Children Theatre presents Disney’s “The Jungle Book Kids” March 21-24, at Anoka Middle School for the Arts, Fred Moore Campus, 1523 S. Fifth Ave., Anoka. Adults tickets are $8, children $4. For tickets, visit www.anoka.k12.mn.us/act or call the reservation line at 763-506-5114. Tickets are also available at the door.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

  • jake vidervol

    This is an amazing experience. I should know, I was in it, I was Baloo. To anyone who like’s to act sing and dance SHOULD do ACT it is so fun. Although it is time consuming, you see friends, you laugh almost 100 times ever practice, you meet new friends-the best person I meet was Nathan Culley ( mowgli). After a performance she saw a friend of mine, Raya, said that she was definitely going to do ACT next year. Although anyone in ninth grade or above can’t participate in ACT, you can always come see the performances. You may think the actors are are the stars of the show… But think again. Who made the sets, who did the costumes, who did the lighting, sound, mics, helped backstage, who did the props, makeup…wait a second, we were supposed to do that at home… Any way, who did the organizing, who helped everyone get to where they needed to on time, who drove kids to ACT, who directed dancing, who helped with singing, who encouraged all the actors, and who directed the whole thing! Not the actors! I would like to thank everyone who helped to make this show amazing! I can’t wait to do ACT next year and I cant wait to see all my new and old friends there too. (-:

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