Jungle Book swings onto ACT stage with unexpected cast

Sixteen actors have been rehearsing and perfecting their production for nearly three months, practicing several times a week — even on weekends.

Late-night rehearsals. Arguments with the director. Actor feuds. Well, not quite. This isn’t a typical production, and these actors are not you’re typical cast. They’re all kids.

Ranging from 7 to 15 years old, these Buncombe County students are working together on a production of Disney’s The Jungle Book Kids. This production will be performed by the Youth Production Class on Asheville Community Theatre’s Mainstage Friday, Oct. 25, through Sunday, Oct. 27.

“Theater is about teamwork,” says Chanda Calentine, the Asheville Community Theatre program director. “Our production classes build life skills and allow students to make new friends. Like any team sport, theater relies on connectedness. Our students come from many different backgrounds, schools, religions, areas in WNC … yet they all work together with our professional, technical staff to create a living, breathing body of work. They are supportive of one another, share ideas, create together.”

The Jungle Book play was adapted from the popular 1967 animated film. The young actors will act, dance and sing with accompaniment from a live band. 

“With all the costumes, singing and dancing, it’s a true team production, and that’s the type of theater we love to create,” Calentine says. 

The Asheville Community Theatre, which has been around for more than six decades, has hosted Children’s Production Classes since 2009.

“It is important for students of all ages to be involved in theater because of the life skills they learn,” Calentine said. “Creativity, communication, collaboration, problem solving, focus, commitment, flexibility, self discipline and leadership … all disguised as fun.”

The performances are Friday Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26-27, at 2:30 p.m. Asheville Community Theatre is located at 35 E. Walnut St. Tickets are $5.

The Youth Production Class will be putting on two other productions next year: The Hobbit in March and The Little Mermaid in May. ACT also offers Youth Scene Study Classes for kids who are more interested in non-musical theater.

“I believe [the kids] take away these skills and apply them to their everyday life,” Calentine sayys. “Also, these talented children get a venue to showcase their talents and Asheville gets to see a great show!”

About Micah Wilkins
Micah Wilkins began her time at Mountain Xpress as an intern while a student at Warren Wilson College, where she studied history and creative writing. After graduating in December, 2013, she continued writing for the Xpress as a freelancer.

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