NEW ALBANY, Ind – The TheatreWorksEDU student productions of Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS and Once on This Island JR begin this week at the New Albany Amphitheater. The performances are July 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, & 21 at 7:30 p.m and they are free to the public. Both productions will be directed by Keniesha Zell (Jeffersonville High School Director of Theatre Arts), choreographed by Sara Budd (Owner of Drake Dance Academy), and musical-directed by Olivia Wohar (a professional actress & musical director).
The 70+ students involved with these two shows have been rehearsing since May. “It has been such a pleasure working with these talented young performers,” said Sara Budd, choreographer. “These kids have willingly given up much of their summer break to practice and that enthusiasm shines through on stage. It is such a positive experience not only for the children, but for us adults as well.”
The student cast involves kids from every surrounding community. Olivia Wohar shared, “These kids are immensely talented and have been so dedicated to their work. This experience has given the community youth a chance to express their talent and the joy of musicals.”
The director, KeNiesha Zell, is no stranger to working with student actors of all ages. She is currently the theatre director at Jeffersonville High School and was recently named as one of the 20 people under 40 making on impact on Southern Indiana by Southern Indiana Business Magazine. “I feel truly blessed to be able to spend my summer working with the most talented student actors,” said KeNiesha. “Seeing my vision come to life is always such a great feeling, and having my expectations exceeded 100 percent is truly remarkable. It’s something I’ve been able to experience consistently while working with this amazing cast.”
These productions are an effort to provide summer activities and positive experiences for students. “The focus of this project has been on the students,” said Dr. Jason Roseberry, Executive Director for TheatreWorks of SoIN. “From the acting, set work, lighting, and sound, these students have worked with professionals and then had the responsibility handed off to them for the performances.”
Mayor Jeff Gahan & the City of New Albany, along with the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County have sponsored the events in order to provide these opportunities. “Many thanks to Theatreworks EDU for bringing new opportunities to our students here in New Albany and Floyd County,” stated Mayor Jeff Gahan. “Come out and enjoy the show!”
Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS is adapted from Disney’s beloved animated film and the works of Rudyard Kipling. Banished by the ferocious tiger, Shere Khan, a human boy named Mowgli and his panther friend, Bagheera, are on the run in the deepest parts of the jungle. On their journey, the two meet a sinister snake named Kaa, a herd of elephants and a giant bear named Baloo, who teaches them the swingin’ musical rhythms of the jungle. After surviving a dangerous encounter with a band of monkeys led by King Louie, Mowgli and Bagheera are forced to run for their lives. When Shere Khan returns, our heroes must rally their fellow animals into battle and restore peace throughout the jungle.
With its poignant story and catchy Caribbean-flavored score, Once on This Island JR. is a highly original theatrical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s popular fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, and the Tony-nominated Broadway musical by the legendary writing team, Ahrens and Flaherty. Through almost non-stop song and dance, this full-hearted musical tells the story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with Daniel, a wealthy boy from the other side of her island. When Daniel is returned to his people, the fantastical gods who rule the island guide Ti Moune on a quest that will test the strength of her love against the powerful forces of prejudice, hatred and even death.