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'The Jungle Book' Roars to Life at Strauss Youth Academy

Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts
Mowgli (Ben Crawford, left) encounters the python Kaa (Keagan Jones) in the Strauss Youth Academy production of "Jungle Book."

Growing up can be hard, especially in the jungle, as many can recall from a particular story from childhood. The Strauss Youth Academy for the Arts presents the beloved children's story "The Jungle Book" this May. The play is about a small boy named Mowgli, who is forced to grow up alone in the jungle with only his animal friends to comfort him.

The cast consist of 25 area youths who have spent over 80 hours preparing for opening night.  SYAA cast exclusively area students between the ages of eight and 18 in all of its major productions. 

"We love working with as many kids as we can get on that stage and letting them experience the world of theater and the rush of a performance, but its really more than that," says executive director Walter Allen, "It builds their self- confidence, their self awareness, makes them better communicators, and they learn to be able to talk to the world around them."

In anticipation of the open of the last play of its season, SYAA will also host a fundraiser called "Rumble in the Jungle" at Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo Pavilion from 3 -5 p.m. on Saturday April 30. Cast members will be on site along with many activities for the whole family. Wristbands include all-day admission to the zoo.

"The Jungle Book" opens Saturday, May 7 with performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., with performances Sunday, May 8 at 3 p.m. The show returns the following weekend with show beginning Saturday, May 14 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 15 at 3 p.m. For ticket information visit the SYAA website. 

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