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'Jungle Book' Cast Struts Into Its Tales

September 25, 1996|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BURBANK — Mowgli, Baloo, Shere Khan and other "Jungle Book" characters are the latest inhabitants of the small, cave-like, black box Burbank Little Theatre on the grounds of George Izay Park, where Kipling's classic marks the beginning of Serendipity Theatre Co.'s 1996-97 season.

If overly long pauses and some dialogue stumbles didn't weaken the dynamic, and if the animal costumes--mystique-lacking leotards and hoods with ears--were more inspiring, this would be a fine introduction to a staged children's classic.

Indeed, the intelligent adaptation by Salah Abdul-Wahid, and strong performances from young Nicolas Cowan as Mowgli and adult actor Annalisa Erickson, nearly overcome the flaws.

Beginning with Mowgli's adoption into the wolf pack and his friendships, and ending with his coming-of-age return to the village of man, the action, directed by Tony Sanders, covers Mowgli's kidnapping by the Monkey King (Mark Barrett), his confrontation with Shere Khan (a sometimes over-the-top Patricia Ayame Thomson) and his besting of the Red Dogs.

* "Jungle Book," Burbank Little Theatre, George Izay Park, 1100 W. Clark St., Saturdays, 1 p.m.; Sundays, 1 and 4 p.m. through Oct. 20. Not recommended for under age 6. $8 (ages 17 and under) to $14. (818) 557-0505. Running time: 90 minutes.

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