Interview | Lloyd Gorman | The Jungle Book

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Rudyard Kipling’s beloved family classic The Jungle Book comes to The Lowry from Tuesday 2nd to Sunday 7th May.

The family favourite originally written back in 1894 has been reimagined and innovatively delivered in this all new production by an award winning creative team which includes playwright Jessica Swale, director Max Webster and internationally renowned songwriter Joe Stilgoe. While the story remains the same there is a new emphasis on acceptance, inclusivity and belonging all set to an uplift and incredibly catchy score.

Opening Night were lucky enough to watch a performance of this vibrant new production at Liverpool’s Everyman theatre ahead of it’s arrival at the Lowry and grab a quick chat with Lloyd Gorman who plays Shere Khan after watching the show.

ON: What what a costume and what a character, we absolutely loved your Shere Khan!

LG: Thank you, it’s quite a costume isn’t it, I really didn’t expect it, it’s brand new, it used to be more biker style and I went for a fitting for this new one and it was a case of ‘Wow that’s a statement and a half!’ it’s a really fun costume to wear especially playing such a great character.

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ON: It must be great playing the baddie?

LG: Yes, it’s so much fun, especially such an out and out baddie who doesn’t in any way try to hide his purpose, he is straight up clear upon his need for revenge, he really believes he needs to write the wrongs of mankind, he’s been mistreated by man but seems to have developed into a bit of a misunderstood tortured soul, verging on a bit of a psychopath ha ha. An awful lot of fun to play.

ON: Is it a challenge to create something different with a story that so many people already know well.

LG: For us as a Company we’ve never felt that challenge, I haven’t for example seen the Disney film for a long, long time, nor have I seen the live action version so I didn’t feel any pressure to be different myself. For us it feels such a unique and special production that although we have the stock characters it feels very fresh and new.

ON: While watching we felt there was a real message of positivity and acceptance, could you tell us a little more about your take on this?

LG: Theatre works on so many different levels and people will take different things from it but as long as it’s giving out a message that is relevant to where we are in life now it will always be relatable, Mowgli has been made very gender unspecific so we never refer to Mowgli in any male or female pronouns, it’s also about celebrating difference which is such a huge issue in the UK at the moment, difference is seen my some people as being wrong or bad and we should stick to our own etc, I think theatre is vital in times like this to show the beauty of difference and to say no, remember that diversity is a massive benefit to us all, to the world and all of our lives. The Jungle Book is the perfect vehicle to do that through a wonderful story that while it entertains it also uplifts and educates. Children often hear many negative things about different cultures so it’s lovely to be part of something so inclusive and positive.

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ON: How did you first become involved in theatre?

LG: I went to youth theatre in Norwich there is an excellent youth theatre there, I started when I was 9, it became my entire social life. There were two things I watched around a similar time, Return to the Forbidden Planet and The Buddy Holly Story, I can’t remember which was first but I just remember watching and thinking ‘this is fantastic, if I could be in anything like this where I get to play guitar and play around in front of so many people I would be so lucky’. I worked ushering, through my teenage years which I think is a great way of keeping in with what’s happening in theatres while you’re training too.

ON: The audience response today in Liverpool was fantastic, has that been the same for other venues?

LG: Yes, we’ve had very loyal and really warm audiences, the shows have been busy and reactions have been amazing, audience have been so open with their reactions particularly at the end of the show her in Liverpool they’re happy to whoop and whistle, it’s a great feeling.

ON: You’re working with an award-winning creative team, how has that experience been?

LG: It’s been great, I was really excited about working with this team, the production has developed so much, what we have now is so so different to what we started with because the team were so involved with the rehearsal process that things could be adapted or changed almost immediately. They have also been so incredibly giving with their advice and guidance and rewrote parts where they have felt were needed, it’s been amazing to see the speed at which the show has developed.

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ON: You’re involved in quite a dramatic fight scene how did you work on that?

LG: Kate the fight director led us through a great dialogue of exactly what would happen, so by the time it came to physically act out the scene we knew it very well so it didn’t feel like choreography. It’s a lot of fun to do, I’ve never had to strangle anyone in the air on stage before and I’m sure it will be the only time I get to do it, so a great challenge and lots of fun!

ON: Do you have a favourite character in the show?

LG: Balloo, he’s brilliant, there was also a character which got cut that was a tap dancing porcupine I really enjoyed that character. I also absolutely love our version of Mowgli it’s such a solid and strong character.

ON: Finally are you looking forward to performing at The Lowry?

Yes absolutely, I’ve only ever performed in the Studio so I can’t wait to return and perform in the Lyric, the last thing I saw there was Slavas Snow Show which I loved, I love Salford and Manchester, I was in Bolton recently and that whole area is just wonderful, I’m really looking forward to my time there.

The Jungle Book opens at The Lowry on Tuesday 2nd May tickets available here.

 

 

MOAT

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Manchester Open Air Theatre returns this summer with something for everyone in the form of five classic tales; Macbeth, The Jungle Book, The Importance of Being Earnest, Peter Pan and Hamlet.

Presented by Northern Rep, Manchester Open Air Theatre (MOAT) will bring each production to life in a pop-up 500 seater outdoor theatre in Manchester’s beautiful Chorlton Park between Monday 31st July and Saturday 2nd September.

Incredibly the 5 very different productions will be presented over the 5 weeks by the same core company of actors, stage managers, designers and director, an exciting challenge no doubt for the hugely talented Northern Rep Company, (who are currently performing The Hound of the Baskervilles at The Reading Room, Great Northern, tickets available here www.northernrep.co.uk/thebaskervilles )

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Thomas Moore, artistic director said “Following last year’s hit summer season; Plays in the Park, we can’t wait to bring Manchester Open Air Theatre to Chorlton Park this summer. This season has something for everyone. The Jungle Book and Peter Pan are going to be a treat for both little and big kids. We have two of the greatest dramas of all time; Macbeth & Hamlet. And to top it off we have the hilariously outrageous The Importance of Being Earnest. Don’t miss what is going to be a brilliant summer.” Listings are as follows;

Macbeth – Mon 31 Jul – Sat 5 Aug. Recommended for ages 13+

The Jungle Book – Mon 7 – Sat 12 Aug. Recommended for ages 3+

The Importance of Being Earnest – Mon 14 – Sat 19 Aug. Recommended for ages 13+

Peter Pan – Mon 21 – Sat 26 Aug. Recommended for ages 5+

Hamlet – Mon 28 Aug – Sat 2 Sep. Recommended for ages 13+

Tickets for all productions are £20

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In addition to the great theatre on offer, the MOAT season will run alongside the inaugural Manchester Wine Festival, which Northern Rep is thrilled to be bringing to Chorlton Park . Offering the opportunity to try around 80 wines from old favourites to new kids on the block Manchester Wine Festival 17 is the perfect event for both newbies and experts. With Chorlton Park easily accessible via the Metrolink (St Weburgh’s Road and Barlow Moor Road stations are a 3 minute walk away) MOAT is a great opportunity to enjoy some quality theatre accompanied by quality wine in the beautiful and unique setting of Chorlton Park.

For more information and to book tickets head to www.manchesteropenairtheatre.com