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Jungle Book comes alive Friday
Mical Whitaker production at Averitt Center
Jungle Book Web
Director Mical Whitaker's seventh annual production of "The Jungle Book" will take to the Emma Kelly Theater stage on Friday at 7 p.m. The show is open to the public and tickets are $5. The characters of Mowgli, Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther are shown in the Herald file photo from July 2013. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/Herald File

While walking in downtown Statesboro Friday, you might see characters from your favorite childhood book walking around as “The Jungle Book” is brought to life by local youth.

Mical Whitaker’s seventh annual production of The Jungle Book is the culmination of a weeklong camp at the Averitt Center for the Arts. The camp gives young actors and actresses a hard-working introduction into the world of theater while also learning more about the popular children’s story.

This summer, 33 aspiring performers took on the task of making costumes and learning their lines and dances during a very short time frame. Whitaker, who is the artistic director of the Statesboro Youth Theater and a Georgia Southern University professor emeritus of theater, takes on the challenge of putting together a production in a week.

“The kids come in on Monday and we do a show on Friday,” Whitaker said. “Getting 33 kids in sync for a production is a major challenge we face.”

Last month, Whitaker and his staff hosted auditions to begin casting for the production. The main characters in the play are given a month to rehearse and memorize their lines.

Throughout the week the kids will block movements, design their own costumes, learn about design making and stage geography.

“This camp is an elementary camp for a reason,” Whitaker said. “We do not expect the kids to be perfect. Our goal is for the kids to have fun while learning about the wonderful world of theater.”

The Jungle Book is a collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling and has been recreated into a popular, everlasting movie for every young generation to enjoy. 

“Other than it being a beloved story, the kids know it well,” Whitaker said. “Some of the children come in here and know more about the story than I do. They might not know what to do, but at least they know the background of the story.”

The show is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Averitt Center. All of the participants in the camp will be a part of the Friday night showcase. Tickets are $5.

“I hope the kids gain the wonderful joy of creating theatre together,” Whitaker said. “If the kids learn how to work together for a common goal after this week long camp experience, then I know they took something away from this camp.”


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