Jungle Book: How the new show gets by without The Bare Necessities

Stage star: Keziah Joseph plays Mowgli, whose gender is not specified in the show
Stage star: Keziah Joseph plays Mowgli, whose gender is not specified in the show

Many might say that for a Jungle Book musical, the song The Bare Necessities is, well, one of the bare necessities.

But a jazz musician who has written a version that has none of the songs from Disney’s 1967 classic movie says he has tried to channel the film’s “spirit”.

Joe Stilgoe, whose production arrives at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre in February, said: “Those are the songs that made me first realise I loved film and I loved music. [But] we have tried to keep the spirit of those amazing songs. And the word we keep throwing around is ‘playful’, as the show is so much fun – though not afraid to tackle the darker elements of the story.”

Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 novel centres on Mowgli, a “man cub” growing up in a family of wolves. In Stilgoe’s show, the character is played by Keziah Joseph. He said: “Our Mowgli is actually played by a female actor – we have taken out any gender references, so Mowgli is just Mowgli.”

The show, which Stilgoe plans to take to the West End, is directed by Max Webster with a script by Jessica Swale. Stilgoe and his band will also perform a Christmas show with Rob Brydon at The Lyric Hammersmith next Monday and on December 18.

Book tickets here

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