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  The Jungle Book at Goodman Theatre

The Jungle Book

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

The jungle springs to life in a kaleidoscopic song-and-dance-filled spectacle that chronicles young Mowgli’s adventures growing up in the animal kingdom. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s time-honored children’s tales and featuring music from the classic Disney film, this spellbinding world premiere is the theatrical event of the season.

Thru - Aug 18, 2013

Price: $30-$125

Stage: Albert Theatre

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 2hrs, 10mins

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  The Jungle Book Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...The main problem with Zimmerman's new show - a classy, sophisticated, visually beautiful but cool-to-the-touch affair that solves many of the inherent challenges with this episodic material but trips up when it comes to its emotional potential and its narrative trajectory - is that this is the first such moment when you've felt such a connection."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...But this ever-surprising, winningly whimsical show reinvents the tale of a child raised by animals (and reluctantly sent home to join his own species) in ways that live musical theater can do. Entirely fresh and playful, the show captures the spirit of Indian culture in authentic yet always accessible ways. It zestily grabs hold of the beat of a British military march. And it flies fearlessly into Lindy Hop mode, with a bit of scatting here, and the pulse of an Indian raga there. On top of all this, there are the winkingly anthropomorphic moves of the jungle creatures courtesy of choreographer Christopher Gattelli, whose wild and crazy and sometimes poetic mashup includes both tap dance and eye-popping bits of traditional bharata natyam Indian classical dance (by way of Hema Rajagopalan)."
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Hedy Weiss

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...With all these hijinks, we hardly need to trouble ourselves with serious themes, but Zimmerman refuses to abandon the lonely Victorian schoolboy doomed to grow up into the misunderstood Rudyard Kipling. Drawing on the Hindu myth of reincarnation, she has the dying tiger—yes, creatures die in this jungle—thank his slayer for delivering him from his predatory nature, before setting forth to a more enlightened future. Our young hero may protest his departure from aboriginal innocence to responsible adulthood, but as we resign ourselves to the sobering reminder that no Eden lasts forever, Zimmerman offers consolation in an exuberant Bollywood finale to send us home assured of more adventures yet to come."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Chicagoist - Recommended

"...We walked into The Jungle Book fearing a classic would either be watered down to please the blandest palate or so twisted into unrecognizable abstractions to evoke the avant garde, but what we discovered was that The Goodman Theatre's production is one that should please all parties without pandering to any."
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Jim Kopeny

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...More broadly, the work's episodic nature lacks a necessary narrative drive. As it stands, Mowgli's encounters with his surroundings feel too disconnected, like fables without morals, or simply bridges between familiar songs. Zimmerman needs to find a greater urgency to make this Jungle Book a page-turner."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...The cast for the Goodman premiere is one of the best ever assembled. Andre de Shields proves that he is musical theatre royalty as Akela and King Louie (who received a standing ovation after his Louis Armstrong fueled number): Kevin Carolan brings Belushi-esqe lovability to his Baloo; Larry Yando continues to show he is one of the world's finest actors and Usman Ally is perfectly cast as the panther who becomes Mowgli's surrogate. Some of the best moments of this Jungle Book comes from the ensemble, led by the hilarious Ed Cross and Geoff Packard (forever Candide) who together have an unspoken comic camaraderie between them, akin to Conway and Korman."
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Michael J. Roberts

Chicago Theatre Addict - Recommended

"...True: the show is a sensation for the eyes and ears. But the one area it's lacking, and shockingly so given the talent involved, is heart. Zimmerman's script merrily bounces along as we follow the young Mowgli (played by the joyous Akash Chopra at my performance) from episode to episode. Characters, including the beloved Baloo (played with great charm by Kevin Carolan) and the overzealous King Louie (a show-stopping Andre De Shields) fade in and out of his life with little impact. The fiercely devoted Bagheera (Usman Ally) struggles with taking Mowgli back to the people pack, but really it seems more a setup for these two to meet all the eccentric jungle critters along the way."
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Robert Bullen

Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...Given Goodman's budget, Zimmerman throws in gorgeous distractions to disguise the complete lack of urgency of everything on stage. Westernized and domesticated from the inscrutable East, we glimpse filigreed thrones for the unidentified Hindu deities who descend from the firmament, giant iconographic hands in ceremonial stillness, a balcony-like bed festooned with temple ornamentation, a glorious green-tiled stage floor, and jungle vegetation straight out of Henri Rousseau. The show is eclectic without ever being exotic, mannered but not mysterious, utterly perfunctory, lovely to look at, and so forgettable as to cast a Lotus-like spell on you."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...The Jungle Book is a major new work that contains am amazing range of artistry. From the innovative musical arrangements by Doug Peck wherein he using jazz and Indian musicians with trumpets, clarinets, trombones, saxophones with Sitar, veena, carnatic violin and tablas to create a unique music; to the outstanding costumes by Mara Blumenfeld; to the sharp lighting by T.J. Gerckens to the imaginative staging by director Mary Zimmerman, we experience a delightful story filled with jubilant sangs and dances and populated by spirited characters led by the outstanding performance by young Akash Chopra. The Jungle Book is stylized, refreshing new musical that is amazingly polished and near finished and ready for Broadway. I'm betting that Chicago will export another hit show to NYC with The Jungle Book. This family friendly show will please all with its honesty and its polished stage craft."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Now - Recommended

"...Even without a robust script, Usman Ally (Bagheera), Kevin Carolan (Baloo) and Akash Chopra (Mowgli) effectively become a makeshift family. A protective Ally and lovable Carolan try to protect the precocious Chopra. Their interactions are sometimes sentimental, sometimes hysterical. Although the young Chopra endears with his fearless commitment to life in the wild, his emotional transition into the 'man village' isn't as clearly defined. A scene-stealing Carolan sings and jokes with booming voice perfection. And the always animated Ally serves as a narrator-type in his conversational explanation of what's going one. Ally acts as a tour guide in these tropical follies. Later, he dominates the curtain call with full throttle pizzazz."
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Katy Walsh

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...Zimmerman's humorous direction buoys the wonder of Mowgli and company. Her book is a refreshing look at the beloved story. Only the years to come will tell, but Zimmerman may have created a new classic for future generations."

Nelson Rodriguez

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...When it was announced that Mary Zimmerman was recreating “The Jungle Book” for the stage, I was delighted- imagine , if you will, this genius playwright taking the Disney animated film and the works of Kipling as a live musical on the stage at Goodman, and I am sure that you can feel the same elation and high anticipation that many Chicago theater audiences felt. While, I must say that I did enjoy the production, now making its “Theatrical Debut”, there are still some flies in the ointment ( so to speak) that when fixed can make this production one that will be enjoyed by theater audiences fro generations to come!"
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...This musical, which is rumored to be Broadway bound, needs a bit more work to make the story both speak to the heart and still keep it commercial enough for the Big Apple. But as a vibrant, strikingly gorgeous visual entertainment for the whole family, it ranks up there with some of the best."
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Colin Douglas

Huffington Post - Not Recommended

"...Like its protagonist Mowgli -- a human child raised by wolves and at home in neither world -- The Jungle Book is neither here nor there. It's too long to hold a child's attention and too obvious for an adult. People who like Kipling will wonder why he keeps being interrupted by music, while people who like musicals will find the score indifferent and the blend of jazz and Indian music discordant. And for all the pre-show fuss about racism and the Raj, nothing on the stage is provocative or significant enough to justify that level of interpretation."
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Kelly Kleiman.

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"..."The Jungle Book" is a fun show, but audiences expecting another "Lion King" could be disappointed. The Goodman show lacks the dramatic strength and narrative unity of the earlier musical. The show starts slowly and doesn't really hit its stride until midway through the first act. We need more Andre De Shields and a more convincing resolution to Shere Khan's vanquishment, as striking as it may be visually. Children should love the show for its color and comedy and the colorful assortment of Disney characters. The adults at my performance the third week of the run cheered the result, so this wasn't a typical knee jerk opening night ovation. The show has already been extended twice."

Dan Zeff

  The Jungle Book Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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