There was much work to be done during rehearsal for the Los Banos Community Theatre’s new “Jungle Book” production ahead of this week’s opening.
“Come on guys, we really need to get this together,” said Jennifer Ramsey, director of the production. The cast was running through “tech week,” when planning meets production.
But as the cast practiced its acts Monday, it started to shape into a detailed, fun and rich production that shows off the skills of the Los Banos creative community.
That’s precisely what Ramsey and the people of the Los Banos Community Theatre hope for in the organization’s first production, opening Friday evening.
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The Community Theatre was known as the Los Banos Arts Council Valkyrie Theater. But after three years with a constant cycle of directors, Ramsey said, the organization changed its name and focus to display local talent of all ages.
It’s still supported by the Arts Council.
“We’re not the strongest professional theater,” Ramsey said. “But we’re more about showing the hard work from Los Banos. ... We all made this an entire community project.”
The theater’s production is a multicultural adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” about a boy, Mowgli, finding his way with a diverse family.
Mowgli, called the “man cub” of the jungle, is being hunted by a tiger, Shere Khan. And he must figure out who he really is and who his family is before Shere Khan has its way.
A.J. Higlesias, 19, displayed a booming voice in his role as Shere Khan on Monday.
“Shere Khan is devoted to killing and eating Mowgli,” Higlesias said. “But I demand to hunt for sport. That’s different.”
Higlesias said a diverse crowd of all ages is participating in the production.
“Everyone gets their chance,” Higlesias said.
Tatianna Brunthoff, who handles advertising for the Community Theatre, said the theater has gone through a significant change.
But after the Community Theatre, Brunthoff said, the closest production theater is in Merced.
“We’re still trying to build more centers and more support for the arts,” Brunthoff said.
Dates, times, tickets
The Community Theatre’s production of “Jungle Book” will start this weekend with shows Friday and Saturday at the Ted Falasco Arts Center, 1105 Fifth St.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7. Two more showings will be held July 29-30.
General admission is $15 per person, with seniors age 65 and up $12, and children 12 and under $10. Tickets can be purchased online at http://lbct.brownpapertickets.com.
The Community Theatre is urging those who can’t make it to the show to purchase a ticket anyway as a donation.