Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" came to life May18 at the Fairmont Chicago hotel for more than 700 people in attendance at the Goodman Theatre Gala. The evening featured the first musical performance of selected songs from the theater's new summer production by Tony Award-winning Mary Zimmerman. The show is based on the classic book and Disney's 1967 animated film.
The evening reflected the "wildness and wonder" the invitation suggested, featuring traditional Indian music, animal decor, exotic table-scapes and guests in Indian garb.
Goodman artistic director Robert Falls introduced musical director Doug Peck, who presented a set of seven songs from the production, including his new arrangement of "It's a Small World After All." "This is one of the most famous, most mocked songs. Richard Sherman wrote this during the Cuban Missile Crisis and has always preferred the ballad version, but Disney needed it more up-tempo for its amusement ride," Peck said.
The biggest applause of the evening went to one of the stars. Two-time Tony Award nominee and Broadway legend Andre De Shields plays King Louie in the musical. Wearing a mustard-colored jacket and leopard shoes, he sang "I Wan'na Be Like You" and said this song was one of the reasons he's so excited about his role. "Anyone who is over 25 should make the connection to Louis Armstrong because he was the king of swing and this song has elements of that."
The event was co-chaired by Women's Board members Amalia Perea Mahoney and Christine Pope, with Adnaan Hamid serving as the gala trustee chair; Anthony Maggiore as the corporate chair; and Glenn Tilton as the honorary gala corporate chair. The gala raised more than $1 million for Goodman's education and community engagement programs. "The Jungle Book" runs from June 21 through Aug. 4.
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