Saturday, October 06, 2007

Camera Obscura - Jungle Book On Stage; Sweeny Todd

A comment on the previous post from James says it all: "I want my Camera Obscura!"

So here it be, one day later than normal. And here I digress to offer the reason for lateness. I have been most busy this week working with an army of volunteers to help stage the Morristown Theatre Guild's production of the Disney musical "Jungle Book", performed entirely local children. And they have done a fantastic job, no doubt.

Two full casts of the show, with a total of some 70-plus kids, each get to perform on different days. Last night was the opening show for the 'red' cast, and tonite the 'green' cast will open their version. There is a matinee tomorrow, and the show will run for the next two weekends.

So, yes, two casts of 70-plus kids, dressed out in an impressive array of costumes created uniquely for this show means I have been immersed in constant activity with little time left for watching any TV or movies this week. But my recommendations do follow in this post. Still, a little more info about "Jungle Book." (Did I mention all who can should come see this show? Because it is fine entertainment and the kids worked relentlessly to bring the show to life. Ticket and showtime info is here, or come to the Rose Center in Morristown on performcance dates and get tickets at the door.)

So what is it like for me, your humble narrator, to help direct and stage a musical chock-full of kids? Well, of course they all love me. But I am the one who has been most impressed by all of them. They are tireless, they worked very hard this final production week to add in all the cool costumes, makeup, and staging to their singing and dancing and acting. There are a few things some of these kids, who range from age 6 to age 15, have said which made me laugh so much. Like when I asked one child a week or so ago why she was so being so hyperactive, and she joyously shouted "I'VE HAD SUGAR!!!!!!"

Last night, about 50 minutes before we started the show, a boy backstage asked "What are doing? Let's start the show!" I told him he had almost an hour to go before we started and the audience was just now arriving. "WHAT? Man, this is the most messed up thing I've ever seen. I could do the entire show RIGHT NOW!" He stomped off utterly disgusted with Grown-Ups. "Stupid, stupid," he muttered.

The real jewel in this production is that all these kids will conclude the show and have theatre and music and the arts firmly planted in their hearts and minds as Great Fun. They (and their parents) will all continue to seek out more chances to act and sing again and again. To be a part of this massive production, to help plant those seeds of devotion to performing, all has been most enjoyable. I've been working with productions at The Guild off and on for some 20 years now, and the experiences have been some of the best times of my life.

And the community's support for The Guild and the hard work by volunteers, all should make Morristown and Hamblen County very, very proud.

So come see the show! See the monkeys! The giant snake! The elephants! The vultures! The singing jungle! Shere Kahn! Mowgli! Baloo the Bear! Bagheera the panther! See the show!

Oh, and one more thing - I will be directing The Guild's next show, a stage version of Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life", with performances November 30 thru December 16. Auditions will be Oct. 8, 9, 15 and 16 from 5 to 7 pm, held at First Presbyterian Church. All ages are welcome to fill out the large cast.

Now then, on to some movie and DVD talk which is likely not for children ... hey, adults need fun too.

This week I saw the first previews for the Tim Burton version of the hit Broadway musical "Sweeny Todd, Demon Barber of Fleet Street" starring Johnny Depp. It will be released this Christmas and you can watch the preview here.


A brand new "Firefly"/"Serenity" movie? Sources say Yes to that. The reports stay that sales of the two DVD versions of the movie and the TV show have been so large, that more is wanted.

And speaking of creations by Joss Whedon, I am very jealous that Nashville is hosting a public performance of the Buffy musical episode "Once More With Feeling". C'mon Knoxville! What are you waiting for?? Join in the fun.


(Have I just referenced my appreciation for three musicals?? Holy cow. That is a first and will likely never happen again.)


Must-Have-Cult-DVD of the Week: Robinson Crusoe on Mars. No singing here, but a very cool little sci-fi adventure from the early 1960s. It even has a wee monkey astronaut.


  1. What a good man you are! I hope thatw e can make it up for 'It's a Wonderful Life'!

  2. Anonymous8:23 AM

    So glad to see you working with The Guild these days. Rus & i will be seeing Jungle Book this weekend. Maybe we'll see you for Wonderful Life auditions too . . .

  3. Paige -

    you know you would be most welcome to come join the show!!