Saturday, May 3, 2008

Very Funny

By Paul Gordon Emerson

The book is closed on Jungle Books, the road kill show, 2008. 

Final count: 

3 Mowglis
3 Shere Khans
2 Kaas
6 monkeys/wolves

Talk about living the endangered species message. 

The bear survived (turns out they really are the hardiest animals in the land) and has fled to North Carolina and the narrator is planning to burn his costume (except its owned by the Washington Opera, so that's probably not the best way to keep that relationship going). 

Best story: The urban jungle of Pomfrey, Maryland

Only one show was more than 30 minutes away. And it was in Texas (well, Southern Maryland). 90 minutes away, a mad dash down Maryland Route 5. No time to waste. Pull up. Unload. We'd spent the morning getting ready for the show the next day because Mowgli #2 had to be in New York for a court date (Mowgli #1 never even got out of the gate... felled by pneumonia the morning the run started). And, yeah, well, the costumes were still in the lobby at Strathmore. 

ALL of them. 

So, welcome to the urban jungle. The tiger went from a purple velvet to jeans and a red t-shirt (that read "hotter than I should be" -- from of all things the World Wildlife Fund). Mowgli wore shades and an attitude. The "imagination station" was rolling. I couldn't stop laughing. 

Best question: 

"What inspired you to become a writer."

Kid couldn't have been more than 9 and was totally into the story, quite convinced apparently that I really am 143 years old and was just shining. Talk about a future Tony Award winning writer. Of course, I'd like to think I was just that convincing..... But seriously, this is what you live for in doing these shows. 

Best review:

"On a scale of one to five, I give it a five." Jenny. Aged 5; from some school lost to identity in the blur of seeing 3,500 kids in 9 days. 

Best save: Shere Khan III (sounds like a Star Trek sequel)

Friday morning. Last day. Last shows. Mowgli #2 ALSO apparently comes down with pneumonia (evidently a high-risk part for pulmonary problems) and is out -- 30 minutes before we leave for the school. Kate Jordan, who normally lives the part of a monkey or wolf, and who isn't even supposed to go that day, volunteers to be Shere Khan, sliding Shere Khan #1 into the role of Mowgli #2. No rehearsal. She never even studied the part (its a guys part, after all), but she goes rocking out there in front of 700+ kids as the jazziest tiger, with rock star hair flowing and the only real nails the tiger had. Meanwhile Mowgli #3, Ja'Malik, is jamming along and cracking up not just the kids but the cast with all the turns and flips and lifts out of NOWHERE. 

(The stage was also pretty much of a storage space, so there was this big love seat off stage left and the whole first show Alice, who somehow wound up along for the ride with nothing to do, was curled up on it missing only popcorn and a beer to look like she was in the living room of a sit com.)

Best Warriors: Jerome and Maggie

The only two people in the cast who did all 15 shows. 

If the run had gone another week we could have opened up our own Animal Planet MASH unit. And gotten it syndicated. 

But it was a ton of fun to see the kids get completely absorbed into the show. EVERY show we heard from teachers and Principles that they couldn't believe the entire room was silent and totally into it. That was great. 

On to Springsteen and doing "Born To Run" right. 

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