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Jungle Book The Musical at Don Russell Performing Arts Centre

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Book yourself in for jungle rhythms with WA premiere
Jungle Book The Musical, Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Rudyard Kipling, Laughing Horse Productions, theatre, play, stage, performing arts, Mowgli, kids
Jungle Book The Musical features Krispin Masealu, left, as Colonel Hathi, Mishka Miller as Baloo, Michalea Logan as Mowgli, Beau van der Beeke as King Louie, Sarah Thillagaratnam as Bagheera and, at front, Tara Talbot as Kaa.


The jungle is jumping with a jazzy beat this July as the collected stories of Rudyard Kipling come together in Laughing Horse Productions' Jungle Book The Musical. Written by Marcus Weber and Michael Summ, the rock, pop and funky adaptation has been performed thousands of times across Europe.

Krispin Maesalu has taken on the challenge of both director and musical director for this WA premiere at the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre. The story follows a small boy who crawls into the jungle and is raised by a mother wolf and her family while being taught the laws of the jungle by the other animals.

Jungle Book The Musical, Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Rudyard Kipling, Laughing Horse Productions, theatre, play, stage, performing arts, Mowgli, kids
Mowgli (Michalea Logan, left) and King Louie (Beau van der Beeke) in Jungle Book The Musical.

"Jungle Book The Musical has many messages for audiences, both young and young at heart," he said. "The show teaches us to face our fears and reminds us to try and lead a fun and happy life."

The main challenge, according to Krispin, is the show's eclectic music. "There are some grungy rock numbers, a beautiful lullaby, kooky vaudeville songs and some cheeky salsas," he said. "The cast have learnt their harmonies well and our newcomers are excited to sing in their first lead roles. This is not the beloved Sherman Brothers Disney soundtrack but it is full of character and fun."

Jungle Book The Musical, Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Rudyard Kipling, Laughing Horse Productions, theatre, play, stage, performing arts, Mowgli, kids
Tara Talbot is Kaa, an enormous snake with an equally large appetite, in Jungle Book The Musical.


After studying all facets of the performing arts, Krispin's versatility as a singer, actor, musician and composer has seen him work extensively across the country. He has a wealth of experience directing and performing in numerous musical productions and on television over the past 15 years with credits including Be More Chill, Side by Side, Honk!, Gumshoe, Clue the Musical, Seussical and Peter Pan, among many others.

"Laughing Horse Productions always seem to present delightful musicals, from operettas to the golden age and beyond," he said. "Working on a new and modern setting of a well-loved story was an exciting opportunity. I also play the role of Colonel Hathi, who is a bit past his prime but a well-meaning if not slightly preposterous pachyderm."

Jungle Book The Musical, Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Rudyard Kipling, Laughing Horse Productions, theatre, play, stage, performing arts, Mowgli, kids
Aaron O'Neil is the tiger Shere Khaan in Jungle Book The Musical.


Aaron O'Neil plays the brutal and dangerous tiger Shere Khan. "He was banished from the jungle for his savagery and is angry, petty and vengeful," he said. "The biggest challenge is not going too far with the scariness."

Performing for the past six years, Aaron has appeared with Modicum and Phoenix Theatres and Laughing Horse Productions. He was recognised for his performance as Mr Beaver in Koorliny Arts Centre's 2019 production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the annual Finley Awards. "Jungle Book The Musical appealed because I have an appreciation of the source material and it was a chance to work with people I've previously done shows with," Aaron said.

Jungle Book The Musical, Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Rudyard Kipling, Laughing Horse Productions, theatre, play, stage, performing arts, Mowgli, kids
Jungle Book The Musical's ensemble – Georgia Talbot, left, Izzy Gath, Renae Harmer, Chloe van der Beeke and Isla Sweetman – surround King Louie (Beau van der Beeke, centre).


Renae Harmer plays three roles: a marching elephant, monkey and mother wolf. "I have been the mother to Mowgli as he was growing up and many other animals have also wanted to play that role," she said.

"The monkey is part of a group and very cheeky while the elephant is second-in-charge during a march. Playing three different animals is a challenge because I have to remember how to be each one as we sing, dance and act."

Jungle Book The Musical, Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Rudyard Kipling, Laughing Horse Productions, theatre, play, stage, performing arts, Mowgli, kids
Tiger Shere Khaan (Aaron O'Neil, at back) preys on Mowgli (Michalea Logan).


Previously, Renae has performed with Laughing Horse Productions in Oliver! and Roleystone Theatre in Dick Whittington. "I love singing, dancing and being in a community group," she said. "And I love Jungle Book The Musical and all the songs involved."

Jungle Book The Musical plays at 7.30pm July 9 and 10 with 2pm matinees July 3 and 10. Tickets are $30, $22 concession and $15 children – book at tinyurl.com/junglebook2021. The Don Russell Performing Arts Centre is at Lot 13, Murdoch Road, Thornlie.


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Why? It’s a classic story from Rudyard Kipling – pretty much perfect viewing time and again.
When: 7.30pm July 9 & 10; 2pm July 3 & 10
Where: Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Lot 13 Murdoch Road, Thornlie
Cost: $30, $22 concession, $15 children
Your Comment
Where are the brown people in this Jungle Book story!
by vanid (score: 0|4) 40 days ago
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