Monday, May 14, 2012

Jane Wakes Up to a Jungle

Jane of the Jungle set rendering by designer Sara Ryung Clement.
By Kimberly Colburn
The tranquility of a lazy summer’s day, one of the last before middle school starts, is interrupted by the arrival of an important-looking envelope. And it isn’t for her parents…it’s addressed to Jane. Who could have sent it? Her best friend Kayla didn’t send it. Steve, the boy across the street, would have just jumped on his scooter and come over if he wanted to tell Jane anything. Jane finally opens the envelope to find it’s an invitation from the absolute coolest girl in school, Nicolette Miller. This can only mean that middle school will be amazing, right?

Except…that when she wakes up the next morning, everything in the world is different. Jane has spots! Her clothes don’t fit the same way, she’s swirling with intense new emotions, and people that she’s always trusted—like her Mom and her kid brother Milo—seem different. Her world has literally been turned into a jungle, and she has become a jungle animal.

Jane of the Jungle set rendering by designer Sara Ryung Clement.
Her mom tries to assure her that it is natural and normal, but Jane just wants to hide out and not even go to the party. How can she face the world looking like this? This party is going to define her entire middle school career, and Jane can’t blow it or she’ll be a loser forever. 

Kayla bursts in, and she’s had just as radical a transformation as Jane has had—except that she looks amazing in her feathery finery. Bright and emboldened, Kayla convinces Jane that going to the party is more important than anything. With Milo in tow, Jane and Kayla take off into the jungle, in search of guaranteed popularity. As they begin to hit obstacles in the jungle, Jane must decide just how far she is willing to go in order to make it to the party. She grapples with her new animal status and how to wield her claws. Will she lose herself to find the elusive coolness that she’s looking for? Can she ever find her way out of the tangled vines and lies of the jungle? One thing is for sure: Jane’s world is never going to be the same again.

Other Musicals from the team of Karen Zacarias and Deborah Wicks La Puma

Looking for Roberto Clemente
Set in 1972, it’s a story about a neighborhood competition to meet the legendary baseball player Roberto Clemente.

Chasing George Washington
Dee, José, and Annie accidentally knock George Washington out of his portrait and into real life - turning their White House tour into an unexpected adventure.

Einstein is a Dummy
A fictional day in the life of a young Albert Einstein.

Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans
A contemporary, Latin-American retelling of the classic fairy tale with a salsa twist.

Ferdinand the Bull
A musical adaptation of the children’s book The Story of Ferdinand.

The Magical Piñata
An original Mexican play with music: a seemingly plain clay pot magically transports Cucha from her small town to a mysterious jungle filled with eccentric characters.
Jane of the Jungle is a musical for the whole family, and explores the difficulty of moving from the world of being a kid into the scary land of adolescence. Jane’s mom might suspect what is happening, but Jane’s little brother Milo can’t understand it. Jane sure doesn’t know what to do with herself. The play is full of catchy songs and tunes you’ll find yourself humming long after you’ve left the jungle.

The Journey of Jane

South Coast Repertory is well known for its history of commissioning new work. SCR has more than 40 currently active commissions, meaning the playwright is going to write a play especially for our theatre. Jane of the Jungle is the result of such a commission. Playwright Karen Zacarias and composer Deborah Wicks La Puma have a long history of collaboration. They’ve created several other musicals for young audiences together (see sidebar), and Jane of the Jungle is their latest creation.

Three years ago, Zacarias and La Puma had an idea and a song. They met for a week’s workshop here at South Coast Repertory, and by the end of that workshop had developed their ideas into a rough script. Over the course of the next couple of years, they continued to revise and develop their work until it becomes the work that you see presented on our stages!

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