‘Disney LIVE!’ returns with “The Jungle Book”

The Shoals Symphony at UNA brought audience members in Norton Auditorium deep into the jungle with the ‘Disney LIVE!’ presentation of “The Jungle Book.”

The sold-out performance took place on May 5, beginning at 7:30 p.m. and following the Shoals Symphony at UNA honorary awards presentation at 7:05.

President Ken Kitts and future SGA President Hugo Dante spoke before the show began.

The film played on a giant movie screen on the stage of the auditorium, while surrounded by musicians performing the score.

In order to allow audience members a break, the show took a 20-minute intermission after ‘man-cub’ Mowgli and Baloo the bear escaped King Louie the orangutan and his group of monkey minions.

After the break, the show picked back up with an instrumental version of “The Bare Necessities” and then resumed the film.

Following the end of the film, the orchestra and guest vocalist Eugene Fleming gave an encore performance of “I Wanna Be Like You” and “The Bare Necessities.”

The Shoals Symphony at UNA performed the music, with help from a guest jazz combo comprised of orchestra musicians Richard Crowder and Will Yager, Huntsville jazz pianist Pete Harrison, Walt Aldridge, a professor in the Department of Entertainment Industry, and the brass section of the symphony.

Daniel Stevens, conductor and music director for the Shoals Symphony at UNA, said the film is popular because it contains several songs “that have stood the test of time.”

“You’ve got people that remember it as a child when it was released the first time, and they’re now bringing their grandkids to the show,” Stevens said.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of “The Jungle Book,” which was the final film produced by Walt Disney before his death.

The performance marked the first time an orchestra had performed the show in the United States, with 11 performances in Germany and one in London before coming to UNA.

Sophomore John Paul Stolz said the live music made the film a better experience.

“I enjoyed it thoroughly,” he said. “The music along with the movement of the movie flowed perfectly.”

Junior Chandon Hines said she had never seen the animated version of the film, but enjoyed it, along with the live performance.

“(The film) exceeded my expectations, and I loved every aspect of (the performance), from the dramatic scenes to the low lights and big songs being played with the symphony added to it,” she said.

‘Disney LIVE!’ first came to UNA last year with the also sold-out performance of “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

The Shoals Symphony plans to bring the Disney experience back for a third round next year on May 4 with “Ratatouille.”