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December 2018

Jungle Book - the Panto by Cheryl May

By Mal Butler - December 22nd, 2018
(reproduced by kind permission of the Isle of Wight County Press)


I WAS one of the fortunate ones who managed to get a ticket to see Jungle Book the Pantomime at Trinity Theatre in Cowes — the final weekend had been a sell-out, and what a treat it was.

As soon as the audience entered the auditorium they were faced with a wonderful well-constructed Indian jungle set complete with beautifully painted scenery to denote three jungle areas, the ivy-clad Bandar-Log Temple, wolves' domain and Indian village.

Loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s original Jungle Book stories, writer/director Cheryl May has created a very funny pantomime with some wonderful comedy scenes and well-chosen music.

The story follows Mowgli’s adventures after he is discovered by the wolf-pack.

Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther, superbly portrayed by Duncan Greaves and Felicity Lane, teach Mowgli the ways of the jungle.

We meet the many jungle animals; Bengal tiger Shere Khan, a villainous performance from Pete Harris as he goads the audience, his equally scheming sidekicks Chikai, a leather-clad punk rat, and Tabaqui, a wannabe gangster hyena.

But this is pantomime and no panto would be complete without a dame, cleverly written in as Mowgli’s birth mother, Jane.

Jane played superbly by first time dame Steve Taverner, makes many appearances as she looks for her lost son.

It is good to have live music for a pantomime and musical director Luke Mulhern on keyboards and Ed Jagger on drums played well, and became part of the story as they interacted with the action.

Pat Suttmann did a great job choreographing the dances and both lighting and sound effects proved very atmospheric, thanks to Peter Ferguson and his team.

What stood out were the amazing costumes, all hand-made or adapted by Liz Santer and Peter Blackburn.

Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society has much to be proud of, and, given the excellent performances from the younger members of the 47 strong cast, the future of the society looks promising.