By: Will Pipes
In previous years, the Oak Grove drama department has put on several award winning shows, and this year is no different. This year’s show, “Jungal Book,” is a darker version of the Disney cartoon that came out in 1994. When asked about the choice for the show, director Suzanne Allmon replied, “I chose Jungal Book because it’s an ensemble piece but also has individual characters. I have a very strong senior class this year, so I wanted them all to have a chance to showcase their own roles without being just part of an ensemble.” The show stars senior Xavier Martin as naive Mowgli, trying to learn the ways of the jungle and staying out of the way of Sherakhan the Tiger, played by Stephanie Weiss, who would like nothing more than a bite of Mowgli. Along the way he is taught and protected by reluctant mother Bagheera the Panther (Jessica Palmer), wolf pack leader Akela the Wolf (Heather Boutwell), and teacher of jungle law Baloo the Bear (Andrew Adams). The enticing Kaa the Python (Taylor Nace), and the cackling Chil the Vulture (Lauren English) appear as well. Juniors Rachel Hummel and Haley Laird seem incredibly hyperactive as they shake and laugh onstage as the Hyenas. Allison Walters and Nathan Maxwell round out the rest of Boutwell’s wolf pack as Grab and Grey. Sophomores Will Thaggard, Keirston Murphy, and Baxter Rose Walters, along with senior Rachel Jackson make up a screeching family of monkeys, and the Lord of the Jungle, Hathi the Elephant, is voiced by juniors Logan McCarty and Miranda Rester. In designing the costumes for the show, Mrs. Allmon said research was key. “Since the show is based in India, we did a lot of research in Indian culture, which would be why we have the henna tattoos. We also took the Indian culture to create the costumes; each color matches up with the characteristics of the animals, so we tried to put a lot of the culture into the costumes instead of just making them look like animals.” This past weekend the drama department competed at the regional Dramafest competition at USM, in hopes that they would be one of three schools chosen to advance to the statewide Mississippi Theatre Association competition. Not only were they called to advance to the next level of competition, the cast and crew also picked up several additional awards, such as Technical Achievement for having the best overall tech crew, an All-Star Cast for Xavier Martin’s portrayal of Mowgli, and Best Physicality to Will Thaggard, Keirston Murphy, Baxter Rose Walters, and Rachel Jackson for their performances as the monkeys. Technical Director, junior Addison Arroyo, fondly remarked on the weekend as a whole: “It’s definitely cool to go to Dramafest because it’s fun to compare and see what your peers can do and to prove what you can do. And of course, there’s nothing like being called for MTA.” So far the drama team has been very successful and hopefully will continue to be as they bring a part of the Jungal to the stage.