REVIEW: Duns Operatic Society ‘The Jungle Book’

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They say that sometimes the best things come in small packages and that’s exactly what could be said of Duns Operatic Society’s ‘Jungle Book’.

The cast were pint sized and the show itself was a mere 45 minutes long but neither were detrimental to its success.

After a two week workshop the Jungle Book hits the stage at Duns Voulenteer Hall

After a two week workshop the Jungle Book hits the stage at Duns Voulenteer Hall

The result of a two week long stint of workshops, ‘The Jungle Book’ was just the tonic for a wet and dull afternoon in Duns last Friday.

Its cast and crew had obviously put in a lot of hard work in a short space of time to ensure that the audiences at both performances went home with a big smile on their face and a spring in their step.

Producer Eloner Crawford gave herself a tough challenge last year by bringing ‘Grease’ to the Duns Volunteer Hall stage with less than eight weeks of preparation so there were sure to have been a few raised eyebrows when she decided that she would have a crack at a Disney classic in a fortnight.

But showing her credentials once again, Eloner can add ‘The Jungle Book’ to her list of successes as her young prodigies did her proud.

Not only did they shine on stage, the children involved in the show were also stars behind the scenes as well; helping to make masks, paint scenery, assist with the technical side of things and best of all turn the Volunteer Hall into David Attenborough-esque territory.

The tropical backdrop was the perfect platform for the energetic cast to entertain and entertain they most certainly did.

At the centre of the story as Mowgli was Micah Chapman, taking on his first leading role with Opera. Not that you’d ever guess that as although Mowgli was quite an understated, sensitive character Micah played him with great confidence.

Now while Mowgli was rather timid one his closest allies, Baloo the bear was anything but. He was most certainly a larger than life character and Hannah Turner looked like she had a brilliant time playing him.

The sensible piece of the jungle jigsaw came courtesy of Jemima Bevan’s Bagheera.

Bagheera was a lot more reserved than Baloo and that really came across in Jemima’s assured performance.

Mowgli had a few friends in the jungle but one person intent on ruining the party was Shere Khan.

Although still in her early teens Scarlett Hardy was one of the veterans of the show and her experience from performing in shows like ‘High Society’ really showed. She really has a terrific presence and made Shere Khan a fantastic and rather unnerving villain.

Throwing some rain on Shere Khan’s evil parade was King Louie, a part which was the perfect fit for young Euan Taylor.

It was a role that needed a real sense of humour and a bit of swagger and Euan brought both to the stage in abundance.

‘The Jungle Book’ was a show brimming with enthusiasm and character which Colonel Hathi (Miriam Shell) and his troop of elephants including the adorable Baby Elephant (Alisha Sullivan) had plenty of as did Kaa which, although one role, was performed by a group of young actors.

The show went by all too quickly as one great song gave way to another with the ‘Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ just two of an energetic repertoire.

As well as learning their lines, the cast had some effective dance routines to master as well, with Sarah Aitken and Lizzie Lerpiniere putting them through their paces.

‘The Jungle Book’ was a real afternoon treat and an ambitious risk which most definitely paid off for Eloner and her creative team.

Well done to them and of course the children themselves who were fantastic.