The Jungle Book – Upper Merion Area High School in King of Prussia, PA.
November 16, 2015
Review by Emma Christensen of Ridley School District
Wolf-cub? Man-cub? The Upper Merion Underground Players prove that you can be both as they blur the lines between reality and fantasy in their rendition of The Jungle Book!
The Jungle Book has been adapted into diverse versions of plays over the years, however they all originate from Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name. The play shows Kipling as a boy in boarding school writing this famous work that centers around a human child being raised by wolves and bears in the jungles of India. His vivid stories come to life as colorful animal characters help this little boy learn and grow into the man he will become.
The students at Upper Merion displayed tremendous effort in taking on this difficult show. The majority of the actors portrayed wild animals; all developed their animals mannerisms with breathtaking ease ranging from swagger to disguised speech. Overall it was clear that the performers had fun on stage. This gave us, as the audience, permission to have fun along with them.
Katelyn Barr took control of the stage as she stepped into the male double role of Rudyard and Mowgli, the subject of Rudyard’s writings. She embodied an immense amount of confidence in her speech and movement that shined on stage. Caitlin Dwinnell also earned laughs in her evil role of Shere Kahn. Dwinnell transformed into a tiger and skillfully played the over-the-top character with high energy and fortitude.
The ensemble helped create the energy on the stage with their shrieks and howls. The supporting cast as a whole did their best to mimic animal traits with every step on stage.
The majority of technical aspects of the show were done by students and were superbly creative. The make up was animal-like and interesting to look at up close as well as far away. The stage crew had some minor difficulties in maneuvering the large set pieces, but nothing was incredibly blatant to the audience and overall they made clean and quick scene changes.
This silly play was fun and clearly enjoyable for audience members of all ages! The Jungle Book at Upper Merion was a wonderful, heart warming family show!
Review submitted by Blake Eckert of Ridley School District
When brightly painted faces, fierce costumes, lots of howling and the love of storytelling come together, you know you’re at Upper Merion’s production of The Jungle Book.
The Jungle Book tells the story of a young boy, Rudyard Kipling, from India who is sent to England to attend boarding school. When the writing competition commences, young Rudyard decides to take the challenge. He writes about a baby boy, Mowgli, who is taken in by wolves and raised in the exotic jungles of India.
Caitlin Dwinnell played Shere Khan, the evil tiger who is trying to steal Mowgli from the wolves. Dwinnell’s character voice and body language stood out, as she completely transformed into the king of the jungle who was determined to get what he wanted. Another notable performance was Bagheera, played by Marissa Emerson. Emerson played the role of a panther who taught little Mowgli his way about the jungle. She captured the role of the mother figure well with her genuinely warm tone of voice and her natural stage presence. Katelyn Barr also did well, playing both Rudyard Kipling and Mowgli. She tackled the task of having to develop two different characters and she did so graciously.
The ensemble had a big task, attempting to mimic the body language and accents of a range of different animals. They took to the task admirably, though in certain scenes there tended to be a lack of enthusiasm among these animal packs. The ensemble had certain humorous, realistic animal moments that added to the effect that Rudyard’s story took place in a vivid, lively animal kingdom. The leads were easy to hear and understand, although the ensemble members without microphone were harder to hear.
The technical crew must have been very busy, since the sound, lighting, marketing, makeup and costumes were all student designed! The sound and lighting were simple and incredibly efficient. They helped the show run smoothly. The costumes were simple and seemed comfortable to perform in, though some seemed not to completely encompass the animals that the actors were trying to portray. This, however was not the case for the snake and tiger. These two costumes stood out in particular. The makeup was also effective and colorful, appropriately denoting the different species of animals.
The cast of The Jungle Book took on the difficult task of telling the story of a world unlike their own and completed it wholeheartedly.