It’s a jungle out there in Duns

Summer workshops building to a performance of the Jungle Book
Summer workshops building to a performance of the Jungle Book

The bare necessities of life may well come to you if you take a trip to Duns Volunteer Hall tomorrow.

The venue is hosting Duns Operatic Society’s production of ‘The Jungle Book’ which rather staggeringly started from scratch only last week.

The society’s 2013 summer show ‘Grease’ was done in less than two months but producer Eloner Crawford has definitely thrown the gauntlet down for herself preparing the Disney musical in less than a fortnight.

Everything from learning lines, auditioning for leading roles, picking up dance routines and making scenery and masks was still to be done when ‘WOW’ called into the first day of ‘Jungle Book’ workshops last week but with a 60 strong cast of enthusiastic youngsters and a skilled team around her, Eloner was confident it would all come together.

“It’s just a really fun show to do and ideal for our age group of 8-14 year olds,” she commented.

“The idea behind doing it all in a workshop style setting was to encourage children with all sorts of interests.

“Not everyone wants to be in the spotlight and we’re always looking for a new generation of technically minded people.

“And then there’s youngsters who are really good at art but don’t always get an outlet to display their skills.

“Everyone gets a choice as to what they want to do in the show, although I’m sure they’ll change their minds a few times!”

Eloner admitted that her plan for ‘The Jungle Book’ was “a very different way of doing things” but said it was a risk she was willing to take.

“We’re just feeling our way through.

“What is great about children this age is that they are like sponges; they just absorb everything and they seem really excited at being involved.

“I was slightly worried when we only had two boys opt for acting as there are many male roles in the show but thankfully a few more were persuaded.

“I’m sure there’ll be some challenges along the way but I’ve got some great people around me.”

Among Eloner’s ‘Jungle Book’ pack are two former BBC costume designers, one of whom also worked at the Brit School of Performing Arts for a number of years; musical meastro Mike Hardy, who has been MD for many local productions and Lizzie Lerpiniere who has starred under Eloner in shows such as ‘Grease’ and ‘Me & My Girl’.

If Eloner has her way the Volunteer Hall might be virtually unrecogniseable tomorrow after she and her team have accumulated plenty of materials to inspire a jungle motif.

“We’ve raided the scrap boxes well and truly,” she joked.

“I want to drape things from the ceiling have things right around the hall and have the children hiding in trees just like animals would do.

“I want people to feel like they are stepping into a jungle.

“We’re being quite minimalist with the costumes.

The children will all be wearing special ‘Jungle Book’ t-shirts but will then have tails and trunks and ears as well as there masks which I’m sure will turn out fabulous.”

*Tomorrow’s performances are at 3 and 6pm and tickets are available from Nairns priced £5.