New musical “The Jungle Book” is currently playing a trial run in Chicago, where it recently received an extension through August 18. But it seems the production may be headed to international markets before it makes Broadway plans.
According to Variety, executives at Disney Theatrical Productions feel the tone of the show may be too similar to “The Lion King,” which obviously is still doing extremely well on Broadway. Disney is not producing the current version of “Jungle Book,” though it does have special arrangement with the producers, and provided full access to the script and songs of the classic movie.
“‘Jungle Book’ isn’t ‘Lion King,’ but it does bump up against it, and we have to be careful of that,” said Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical. Both productions feature humans dressed as animals.
Schumacher said that there is big interest in the production around Europe, and that he has a trip to India scheduled for later this year to see what kind of interest that country has in “The Jungle Book” and other Disney Musicals.
For now, we only know that the next incarnation of the current musical will come in Boston with an also recently extended run from September 7-October 13. That show will play at the Huntington Theatre Company, which co-produces the show along with the Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, where it is currently playing.
The musical is directed by Mary Zimmerman, who took a unique approach of starting rehearsals with no script, and then writing up through opening day. She says, however, that the script comes naturally when you have the songs from the original production.
“When you take the songs, character and plot come with them,” she said, though she also said she tried to bring a strengthened sense of structure to the show. “I tried to add a sense of return in the structure, to bring a sense of completion and satisfaction.”