I arrived at The Lyric at 9.30am for the first read-through of The Jungle Book. I was shown into the cafe where the other Northern Bank Lyric Leads, the cast and crew were starting to gather for coffee and pastries. I thought this was a great way for everyone to meet in a relaxed setting.
We were joined by Richard Croxford who is the Artistic Director at the Lyric. He told us that he would be directing this production of The Jungle Book and that it would be based on the original story written by Rudyard Kipling.
At about 10am we headed up to the rehearsal room which is a big, bright, airy room with floor to ceiling windows that look out over the Lagan. We took our seats which had been set out in a circle in the middle of the room sitting side by side with the cast and crew. It really felt as if we were being included in the whole experience and was very exciting.
The read-through of the play took about 1hour 30 mins. We got to meet Mowgli, the man cub, Baloo the bear, Shere Khan the tiger, Bagheera the panther and the very upper class Sergeant Major, who likes to march. There are noisy monkeys, villagers and other amazing creatures such as Chil the eagle and The Queen of Cobras. We also heard the brand new songs that have been written for this adaptation of The Jungle Book by Conor Mitchell who is an Irish composer and writer - ‘These are the laws of the jungle let them be your guide. Remember the laws of the jungle and survive.’
As soon as the read-through was finished there was a 10 minute break. After we gathered around the set designer who had a mock-up of the stage on a table at the front of the room. He explained to us his thought process behind the stage design. This was fascinating as he had set the stage to look like an open pop-up children’s book which we would see Mowgli reading in the opening scene. The whole set was covered in writing from the original book and there were vines hanging down the front and back of the stage. The houses which would be used for the man village also doubled up as trees in the jungle. There was a river running through the middle of the stage and a pit at the very front which would be raised up during the performance, hence the reason for removing the 2 rows of seating at the front of the auditorium. The stage looked fantastic !
I really enjoyed my morning and thought that the first read-through of the play was brilliant. I am now looking forward to seeing the finished production on the Northern Bank stage, and can highly recommend that this is definitely one for the adults to see as well as the children!!