by Philippa Cross who would rather be outdoors than in, alone than in a crowd. She prefers dogs to cats, with a major leaning towards bulldogs. She hopes to win the Pulitzer prize for her yet unpublished novel. She started Thumb Media with a partner in June 2009. Visit her blog

The Jungle Book is on at the Peoples Theatre in Braamfontein until April 17th

The Jungle Book for me is as much about the fantastic soundtrack as it is about the story. What may have started as Rudyard Kipling’s tale is now, in my mind, firmly the property of Disney, and with that comes the wonderful Disney soundtrack.

The latest production at the People’s Theatre obviously encountered music usage rights issues when planning the production, because none of the music from the Disney version of the Jungle Book was included in the Show. The production staged at the People’s Theatre is based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling and not on the movie by Walt Disney. Big Big difference.

Jungle book without the music is like spaghetti without the bolognaise or vanilla ice-cream without chocolate sauce. It’s still Jungle Book, but not quite as delicious, not nearly as satisfying.

In keeping with the jungle theme, we went armed with banana leaves to wave at the stage at appropriate times. The excitement amongst the children in the audience was tangible, and my children have been talking about it for 3 days since we saw the show. For me it is always less about what is showing, and more about the whole experience. Usually, the show is brilliant. This time I am falling back on the experience.

Perhaps it’s a bit of an unfair criticism, but it’s based on the fact that my expectations were not met. I was expecting to sing along to the old favourites, and nothing suggested that the music from this wonderful production was not part of the show.

For my family, The Jungle Book story is undoubtedly the Jungle Book of Walt Disney Studios, music and all. Disney’s soundtrack has made Rudyard Kipling’s novel magical, beautiful and memorable. Doing a Jungle Book musical without it just didn’t work for me.

There were many good points. The cast were great. The music that was used wasn’t bad. The audience did enjoy themselves.  I remain a fan of the theatre, especially the children’s theatre. Going to a live production is an experience in itself, regardless of what you see. The atmosphere is wonderful. It is, in my opinion, a perfect family outing.  The Jungle Book experience is no difference. It’s worth going purely for the pleasure of watching a live production with your children.

But overall, as much as I hate to say it, the show fell short for this disappointed Disney Fan.

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