The Theatre Factory goes wild with 'Jungle Book'
There’s sure to be plenty of proud parents and grandparents in the audience when The Theatre Factory presents “Disney’s The Jungle Book” Aug. 11-17.
Their kids and grandkids are the stars of the Kidworks show.
“This show is a little different in that it is theater camp kids that will be in the show – and there are lots of kids in this show,” says Angela Bender, who works with the young actors at the Trafford community theater.
The budding thespians spent two weeks learning the basics of theater and learning their lines for “The Jungle Book,” the Disney tale about Mowgli, a young boy raised by wolves.
Heroes and villains
As the story goes, Mowgli (played by Ella Dirling and Tanner Shirey) learns the ways of the jungle with some help from his friends, Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther and Kaa the python. The boy faces his share of unlikely villains – including a hooded cobra, monkeys that take him as a prisoner and a man-eating tiger, Shere Khan, that poses a real threat.
Sarah Bender of Harrison City and Becky Shirey of Greensburg are directing the show.
“This camp is a chance to work with new faces that are getting their first taste of theater, and it’s exciting to be a part of that experience,” Sarah says. “Doing a Disney show is really special as well; it’s a chance to get creative with songs and characters everyone knows and loves.”
It’s also a lot of work for 28 young performers ages 6 to 14.
“Our cast has to learn to sing like their characters, to dance like their characters, to engage the audience and to embody the playful spirit of the show,” she adds. “Everybody in the cast has been really committed to learning the material, even the little ones, and the big kids do a great job helping out as well.”
Becky says when it comes to learning lines, “children are amazing. They learn much faster than adults. I love working with kids because they are truly little sponges and so ready to learn.”
Also, she says, each child is important and brings something unique to share, “and that makes the shows more colorful and fun to watch.”
Sarah and Becky have experience working with kids. Last summer they co-directed Apple Hill Playhouse’s summer camps.
Sarah also does scenic art and set design for The Theatre Factory and for Scotch’n’Soda Theatre at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is a master’s degree student in professional writing.
Becky also directed the children’s Christmas show, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” for Greensburg Civic Theatre and last performed in “The Glass Menagerie” for Cabaret Theater in Latrobe.
The cast includes Piper Barnes, Amelia Bender, Colleen Boatright, Olivia Brennan, Alex Brennan, Minka Clawson, Olivia Clothier, Ella Dirling, Winter Eckels, Django Eckels, Tika Gill, Rebecca Gerse, Amelia Haslam and Maddie Killmeyer. Also, Mya Kochasic, Sophia Laspina, Cameron Nicole May, Adelaide McLaughlin, Danielle Miller, Joliene Miller, Elizabeth Murphy, October Sheffer, Tanner Shirey, Callie Shirey, Chloe Stack, Jackson Scott, Nino Sunseri and Dannika Wukich.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.