Jungle Book at the Playhouse

Jun 1, 2018

One of the plusses of parenthood is being able to relive our favorite stories, from favorite books like Seuss’s A Wocket in My Pocket to cherished films like the 1964 classic Mary Poppins.

Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Snowy Day, Bread & Jam for Francis, and Madeline to be read during morning cuddles on the couch and at bedtime. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Sound of Music, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown watched while having a picnic on the living room floor, part of our Friday night movie nights ritual. Sharing childhood favorites with our girl was a highlight of the early parenting years.

Hopefully, your child has fallen in love with the brilliant 1967 animated version of Jungle Book


Disney’s animated adaptation of “The Jungle Book”, released in 1967.


… because Pasadena Playhouse is offering a production of Rudyard Kipling’s story that includes live actors, video, interactive technology, shadow puppets, and poetry from the original novel. The jungle is created not by actual or faux trees and leaves, but by shadows, silhouettes, and projections.


Official production photo.


“Although the Mowgli stories in Kipling’s The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book have been often adapted for film and TV, there are also other stories in the books about different animals from around the world that we can’t wait to introduce… including The White Seal, which chronicles an Alaskan fur seal and his journey to meet the wisest creature in the seas: a manatee,” said co-creator and co-director Rick Miller. “The whimsical and soulful stories, poems and songs that Kipling assembled in The Jungle Book cover a great deal of territory, both thematically and geographically.” (


Rick Miller


For example, most people don’t know any of the Kipling’s stories beyond Jungle Book, but Mowgli actually leaves the jungle at one point and heads to the city. Miller states that Kipling’s stories are about education and the environment, “two relevant issues today.”

“One of our goals was to use a bigger lens on this story. Mowgli is still there in the city story, and so is Baloo. But it’s important to show that not only was Mowgli rejected by the animals for being too human, he’s also rejected by the humans for being too much of an animal.” That makes it a far more nuanced and moving story about a young child trying to find his place in the world. Kids today—perhaps more than ever—know about having multiple/blended families and feeling disconnected. (“Education Matters” by Ryan G. Van Cleave,

A small cast tackles a variety of roles onstage, and co-creator and co-director Craig Francis described the cast in the Sarasota production as “manipulating lights, shadows and fabric to create different natural, unnatural and theatrical environments.”¹


Craig Francis


Miller and Francis’s Jungle Book is the second in a trilogy. They began with their interpretation of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and plan to end with Shelley’s Frankenstein. These pieces are presented by Kidoons and WYRD Productions in association with 20K Collective.

Recommended for everyone 5 & up.

“It’s not Disney on Ice,” Miller explains. “There are still challenging themes here. But we think we’ve created something pretty special that can start a lot of important conversations, be enjoyable, and be a unique memory for kids.”²

Jungle Book
July 17-29, Tuesday through Sunday, show times vary
Length: 60 minutes, no intermission
Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena
Tickets: $25-$44
Groups of 10 or more save 15%-35% on ticket price
For complete info and tickets, visit
Or call 1.626.356.7529


¹  Source: “Asolo Rep Goes Wild with World Premiere of The Jungle Book” by Kay Kipling, July 24, 2017, Sarasota Magazine.

²  Source: “Education Matters” by Ryan G. Van Cleave,




Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena