Everyone knows the story of Mowgli, a little boy raised by a family of wolves and jungle inhabitants before journeying to take his rightful place among the human race. But this weekend the story will come to life on the Radford High School stage.
HaeBo Productions, a local community theatre group run by RHS drama teacher Tonya Hall Bowyer, will be presenting this children’s classic tale this weekend at the school’s auditorium.
All the characters will be showcased, including visits by Kaa the snake, sneaky vultures, Bagherra the panther and Sher Khan, the villainous tiger out to get Mowgli. King Louie and his mischievous band of apes will entertain audiences with their constant antics.
Belle Heth Elementary students will find a special treat onstage as fourth-grade teacher Heather Rowland portrays Raksha the Wolf in her second production with the theatre company.
Another familiar face will be RHS student Josh Mullins, best known for his portrayal of Cowardly Lion in the spring’s popular production The Wizard of Oz. Mullins plays the lovable Baloo, a bear who helps Mowgli on his journey through the jungle.
The show is directed by Christiansburg native Matthew Ridley, who has a long theatre resume of his own, including performances at the Wohlfahrt Haus dinner theatre in Wytheville.
Ridley said he has enjoyed the challenge of putting the show together.
“It’s been fun working with each cast member to get into their animal character, and working with Elias as Mowgli to get him to adopt each animal’s type of characteristics as he meets each new animal,” Ridley said. “It was hard adapting the classic movie version into a live-action stage play while trying to maintain all the little nuances that people love the movie for. It’s been hard, but fun, adapting it for the stage, and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we enjoyed putting it all together.”
HaeBo presents shows throughout the New River Valley and provides theatrical opportunities to area children free of charge.
“I don’t think a child should have to have wealthy parents in order to participate in live theatre,” Bowyer said. “Some of the kids that can’t afford formal classes offered by other organizations in the region aren’t exactly the ones who need the type of experience that being a part of a production gives.”
According to Bowyer, live theatre teaches skills that are useful in everyday life. Time management, responsibility, dedication, commitment and learning to work as part of a team environment are all things that go into being part of a live theatrical production. “And the magic it brings is just the icing on the cake,” she remarked.
Performances are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the RHS auditorium. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door.
CAST LIST: ***can be used as a pullout box
Mowgli – Elias Sarver Wolf
Raksha the Wolf – Heather Rowland
Akela the Wolf – Carter Gaylord
Bagheera the Panther – Samantha Eberhardt
Kaa the Snake – Willie Caldwell
Baloo the Bear – Josh Mullins
Flunkie the Monkey – Jeremiah Sarver Wolf
Punkie the Monkey – Logan Truesdell
Bunkie the Monkey – Kaleigh Bowyer
Steve the Monkey – Carter Gaylord
King Louie the Orangutan – Mathias Ridley
Sher Khan the Tiger – Andy Bowyer
Buzzy the Vulture – Jordan Truesdell
Flaps the Vulture – Jessi Belzer
Ziggy the Vulture – Casey Belzer
Dizzy the Vulture – Heather Rowland
Shanti the Girl – Kaleigh Bowyer
By Rhonda K. Fleming