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The Jungle Book at Newcastle Theatre Royal | A Review

*Press Night Review

Disney's version of The Jungle Book is one of our family's favourite films and I suspect it has been watched close to 100 times over the years. We are all well-acquainted with the characters, storylines and songs from Rudyard Kipling's much-loved tale. We all went to watch the live action film a couple of years ago, and whilst I loved it, the kids gave the new movie a big thumbs down and claimed it was nothing compared to the original. So when an opportunity came along for us to review the stage version which is currently touring the UK and showing at Newcastle's Theatre Royal until 31 March, I accepted knowing that it would have high standards to live up to.

The Jungle Book at Newcastle Theatre Royal | A Review


Despite being over 100 years old, the new show really translates well to stage with common themes of friendship, family, belonging, the importance of hard work, identity and community still being just as relevant today as when the story was first published in 1894. With a diverse cast, clever use of puppetry and an ever-moving set, the show really is a feast for the eyes.

The 7pm school-night audience was a real mix of families and grown-ups and I'd say the recommended age of  6+ is spot on. Smaller children will probably be ok too but there are a few scary scenes (that pesky tiger!) and themes of death/hunting/kidnapping that you should be aware of. Some of the jokes will go over the heads of younger children and it can be a bit wordy in places but if they normally sit well for a couple of hours and enjoy live music, they'll be fine.

The Jungle Book was a show that we all smiled all of the way through and was super entertaining. The 'street' monkeys were a real highlight for myself, Harry, Heidi and Jack and had the kids laughing in a way that I normally only see them do at a Panto. Expect nose picking, lots of shrill 'OMG' cries and groovy dancing that will have you laughing out loud. Balloo the bear was a real favourite with the kids and is loveable, funny and a character you'll really warm to. For me, the real star was Kaa the python. The snake was brought right up to date with worries of image and ageing adding to her woes. I'd have loved to have seen more of Kaa (Rachel Dawson) as she was a real delight to watch as she hypnotically slithered around the stage. 

Jack is not usually a fan of any kind of crowd participation or any form of singing along when we watch a show and as we watched The Jungle Book it was the first ever time I caught him dancing in his seat and clapping along to the songs. Most of the music is played by the cast live on stage and although the songs are all new, they're nice and catchy and will have you tapping along in your seat too. It was lovely watching the Jack properly enjoy a theatrical performance like this and as a family, it was such a lovely experience to enjoy together. 



I loved that Bagheera was re-imagined as a smart and sassy lady but I would have loved to have seen more assertion coming through kind of akin to how Letitia Wright played Suri in Black Panther.  Dithering is not what I wanted to see from this character but I guess this kind of sticks to the original storyline so I'll let them off. 

I asked Harry, Heidi and Jack their thoughts on the show and all agreed that it was fantastic and even better than the film versions so high praise indeed. I caught them staring at the stage intently on a number of occasions and Heidi and Jack were holding hands whenever Shere Khan was on stage. Cute! The show really manages to build up anticipation in a couple of scenes and will have you on the edge of your seats on a number of occasions. I always love to hate somebody on stage and although Shere Khan was scary to the younger members of the audience, I personally found him more amusing than frightening, especially as he started cracking jokes that he couldn't be a Vegan. 

The Jungle Book at Newcastle Theatre Royal | A Review

As we left the theatre, my three joined the other children from the audience as they howled their way down Grey Street proclaiming they'd love to be a man-cub too. The show is the perfect length for families at just under 2 hours long but I'd also recommend to those visiting without children too as it's a show that isn't childish or specifically aimed at kids - it's definitely inclusive and designed to be enjoyed by all. The performance was fresh and a real modern take on the story and if I'm honest it's something I'd expect to see at Northern Stage rather than a traditional theatre like the Theatre Royal. It worked really well though and I'm glad to see lots of the audience felt the same as the show ended with a standing ovation from a few and rapturous applause from a packed theatre. 

I'd give this version of The Jungle Book a strong 4 stars out of 5. Tickets are available from just £12 which is a real bargain I think. If you're looking for somewhere to take the family for an entertaining Easter treat that will be loved by children from aged 6 right up to grandparents, this show will really deliver and leave you feeling entertained and uplifted. 



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1 comment

  1. Oh this sounds fab, I had no idea it was even on or I would have booked to take my teen. xx

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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