Middle schoolers go wild for ‘The Jungle Book’

Mar 21, 2023

Your job may be stressful, but at least you’re not “the one with the giant butt.”

That’s how Wareham Middle School fifth grader Charlie Avila describes her role as Baloo, the big, fun-loving bear, in the Middle School’s production of “The Jungle Book Kids.”

Middle School students will perform a 30-minute abridged version of the classic 1967 Disney animated film in the school auditorium at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 30.

Charlie said that the role of Baloo, which requires her to stuff her belly and buttocks and sing “The Bare Necessities,” is “slightly embarrassing” but still enjoyable.

“The Jungle Book” tells the story of Mowgli (fifth grader Victoria Baptiste), a human boy who was raised by the wild.

“It’s really fun” to play the lead role, Victoria said.

“I just tell myself that there’s other people on stage,” she said, “so if I mess up, I won’t look that dumb.” 

Mowgli’s strongest protector is his panther guardian Bagheera (fifth grader Ava Ostiguy).

“I am really amazed that I got the role,” Ava said. “I think it’s really fun because I get to start off the whole show with a song. I think the show will do great when it’s produced.”

As Mowgli grows up, the animals of the jungle try to convince him to rejoin the world of humans.

“Throughout the play, he runs into dangers that convince him to go to the ‘man village’ because the jungle is not safe,” said sixth grade English teacher Janelle Brangwynne, who is codirecting the show with special education teacher Jess Hathaway.

The two biggest threats to Mowgli are the sinister snake Kaa (a giant costume brought to life by five students holding umbrellas) and the villainous tiger Shere Khan (fifth grader Ava Ambarik).

“It’s pretty fun,” Ava said about playing the bad guy, “but it’s also very scary, because you have to do a lot of things that you normally wouldn’t do. And it makes me nervous because I have to roar and stuff.”

Most of the student actors play multiple roles, including that of the jungle itself (actors wear green smocks covered in leaves and flowers to blend into the scenery).

“We thought the costumes and scenery wouldn’t be difficult to accomplish,” Brangwynne said.

“The Jungle Book Kids” is the Middle School’s first live show since 2019. Brangwynne and Hathaway chose the show due to its familiar songs, brief runtime and use of a single set.

“We’re really excited to bring drama back,” Hathaway said. 

Tickets for “The Jungle Book Kids” are $5 and can be ordered at tinyurl.com/2p95czy6 or by emailing wmsdrama2023@gmail.com