For Whidbey Children’s Theatre’s current season, the goal has been to give the spotlight to “the little guy.”
Such is the case in “The Jungle Book,” the theater’s newest musical production, which runs from Jan. 31 until Feb. 9. Older kids take a back seat so that younger ones can take center stage.
“It’s really cool to see them really shining as leads,” seventh grader Molly Nattress, the production’s sound technician, said.
Marketing Coordinator Lindsey Hensrude explained that it’s the first production for seven of the 19 members of the cast. The choice of show was decided by a vote held during a fundraiser.
It has also been the first time for Director Megan LeMay. A former theater kid from the north end of Whidbey, LeMay has used her skills as a choreographer to direct the show.
Kids from different schools on the island auditioned for parts in December and have been rehearsing ever since.
Musical Director Ann Johnson estimated the kids have logged about 60 hours of rehearsal time. The most grueling rehearsals took place the week before opening night.
The show is a musical based on the Disney movie and uses the same music.
“Musically, what we’ve really been working on has been bravery and confidence and making the loudest mistakes we can,” Johnson said.
During rehearsal the day before opening night, actors and actresses spring off the stage with vigor, treating the audience to a personal view of the wildlife they portray.
Nine-year-old June Murray, who plays Mowgli, said she is thankful for the support she has been given.
“I’m used to there being so many kids who are way older than me,” the star of the production said. “I like this show because it’s so big, bright, fun and colorful.”
Her co-star who plays Baloo, Corin Boyd, agreed.
“I like this play because it’s just so fun, and I like all the music in it. We had a great music director,” the 11-year-old said. “This is probably my seventh play that I’ve been in here, and they just keep getting better.”
Hensrude said some of the older kids have helped support the show by assisting behind the scenes.