Saturday, September 26, 2009

...Going to the Zoo

Usually that's just a phrase for losing your mind. Sometimes it actually involves a trip to a place where great creatures are in the best pens we can devise on limited real estate. Sometimes its both. That would be the case in our case...

The chance to do Jungle Books, which had so much of its inspiration and where so much of its research was done, on the grounds of the National Zoo was a many year wish in the making. It didn't seem possible because there didn't seem to be a connection.

But serendipity being what it is, Betsy Lundgren, our Marketing Director, turned out to be friends with someone in the Development Office of FONZ (the Friends of the National Zoo), and in a very short period of time JB at the NZ went from a "wouldn't it be fun" to a reality. That reality took shape over three performances by CityDance2 this week. The audiences, while small, were wonderful, and the dream -- to go now as a guest and be invited back as a paid part of the program, took a step forward. It was, of course, insane. That's the way it goes around here -- as Tiffany Frost used to say "ain't no party like a CityDance party." We opted for full make-up, which meant that our main characters, Shere Khan (Sydney Ignacio), Baloo (Alana Allende) and Kaa (alternately Mariel Miller and Kaitlin Madzelan) had to get in two hours ahead of showtime and go "all-in." We talk often about authenticity and entertainment living side-by-side.

The chance to honor the Kipling tale, and to prompt young people to go and see the real creatures, moving as only they can, was a motivation for going. The kindness of the staff and crew, the clear possibility of building an enduring program on the grounds of the Zoo, are reasons for going back.

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