Meri has been a Masker for more years than she cares to remember as actor, director, and just about anything else which needs doing! Meri directed Anne Boleyn at Hamptworth two years ago and previously adapted for the open-air and directed Pride and Prejudice for Maskers. She takes enormous pleasure in creating the right atmosphere for a play and helping to bring the characters to life. She is enjoying the challenge of converting a manicured English garden into the Indian jungle!
The Cast (In order of appearance)
Mowgli played by Kristina Wilde
This is Kristina's debut with Maskers. A former Brighton resident, Kristina acted in and directed multiple productions with SUDS, Sussex University's drama society. Past roles include Masha in The Seagull, Paige in Dinner, and Bolingbroke in Richard II.
Shere Khan, the Tiger played by William Baggs
This is not the first time William has played an animal. His first role with Maskers was as Pricklemouse in Can You Hear the Music. A forest/jungle theme continued in A Midsummer Night's Dream playing Lysander. Although not King of the Jungle, part number three was a monarch: James I in Anne Boleyn. Playing the ineffectual Richard II was a great opportunity to roar at his subjects, but let's hope Shere Khan can do better!
Akela, Leader of the Wolf Pack played by Paul Green
Paul has been with Maskers for over three years, but has been acting and directing for over 30. His last outdoor performance was at The Minack Theatre in Cornwall, where he also directed The 39 Steps three years ago. His most recent roles include Brendan in The Weir, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet and the Italian Waiter in Betrayal. Paul is looking forward to playing Akela the Wolf and showing his "inner animal".
Raksha, Alpha female Wolf played by Kate Grundy
Kate has been part of Maskers for many years and has previously been seen in Treasure Island at Hamptworth playing a bloodthirsty pirate. Kate is loving being part of The Jungle Book at Hamptworth and yet again, she is playing Mother Wolf to her own little wolf and real-life daughter, Millie Grundy.
Baloo, the Bear played by Adam Taussik
Since Adam was the Chief Weasel in Wind in the Willows a few years ago, he has been playing humans for a while, but hard work and dedication (and fortunate casting) has brought him back to the animal kingdom - and perhaps all the hair had something to do with it. When not in furs, he has another life in Student Services at the University of Southampton.
Bagheera, the Panther played by Marie McDade
Marie has played a number of parts since she joined Maskers three years ago, but so far all have had just the two legs! After exploring emotional depths in Richard II she is going to enjoy exploring the jungle and finding her inner panther…
Tabaqui, the Jackal played by Molly McDade
Molly is relatively new to acting, having only appeared in a couple of Nuffield Youth Theatre productions before coming to Maskers, appearing in the award-winning production of Our Town, where she played the part of Rebecca. While that was a heavily emotional play, she is looking forward to something much more fun and is now ironically discovering her true calling is playing a mangy, rabid jackal sidekick…
Kaa, the Snake played by Ruth Kibble
Ruth joined Maskers over 10 years ago as a blind witch in Macbeth and is an active member both on and offstage. This will be her fourth production at Hamptworth, having previously wailed sea-shanties in Treasure Island, danced a foxtrot in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and lost her head in the title role of Anne Boleyn. She hopes to hypnotise and beguile you as Kaa the snake...so keep an eye on any tasty-looking children!
Buldeo, the Hunter played by David Jobson
David is ecstatic to be back at Hamptworth after playing a lurker in Anne Boleyn. He has played General McKenzie in And Then There Were None, rivalled the lords in Richard II, and fought in The Three Musketeers twice in a row (once as Porthos). It makes the warrior Buldeo the perfect role for him.
Messua, Mowgli’s adopted mother played by Jill Desborough
Having enjoyed a long career as an English teacher, Jill has done most of her acting in the classroom! She joined Maskers last summer and has been privileged to work with talented people on two very different shows: the Christmas is A-Comin' and, currently, Richard II. She is delighted to have the opportunity to work on The Jungle Book, to learn about the challenges of outdoor productions - and to get messy helping with the mask making!
Chil the Kite/puppeteer played by Leah Barlow
This is Leah’s fifth show with the Maskers over a 12 year membership, playing anything from Queen Anne Boleyn’s faithful friend Lady Celia to a singing strumpet, but this is a first for her with puppeteering. Leah is really enjoying this summer show and learning new acting techniques for the puppets.
Luna, the Monkey played by Jo Fox
Jo has been a Masker since 2007. Recently she played the part of Lady Jane Rochford in 2013's open air production of Anne Boleyn at Hamptworth Lodge. Following this she played Jodie in Sitting Pretty at the Nuffield in January 2014 and Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest at Hamptworth in summer last year. She is looking forward to monkeying around this summer and is having lots of fun rehearsing for The Jungle Book!
Ban, the Monkey played by Jo Iacovou
Joanna has been a member of Maskers for just over 12 years. She has had varying roles over the years, her favourites being Ruby Birtle in J.B. Priestley's When we are Married and Rita in Willy Russel's Educating Rita. In 2014 she had a very successful directorial debut with Thornton Wilder's Our Town which won two Curtain Call awards. She is keen to direct again but, for now, she's back to monkeying around onstage.
Taak, the Monkey played by Molly Martinson
This is Molly's second show with Maskers, having previously appeared in Anne Boleyn.
Hunter 1 played by Eric Petterson
Eric started a late acting career with Maskers in A Christmas Charivari in 2012. His straight acting roles included the guard in Forward to the Right and Jack in The Weir. He also played James in The 13th Floor and a manic mass murderer in the latest Christmas offering. In 2015, he toured with Maskers as John of Gaunt in Richard II. This is his first open air production, and he is looking forward to it greatly.
Hunter 2 played by Paul Baker
Paul has been in every Maskers show in the open air since 1996, most recently in The Importance of Being Earnest here at Hamptworth last year. He is a keen amateur naturalist and is still unsure how he feels about playing the part of someone who hunts animals to kill them...
Woman played by Sue Dashper
Sue has been a member of Maskers for several years now, and the last production she appeared in was Sitting Pretty at the Nuffield Theatre. She has also acted in Studio productions including a Curtain Call-nominated performance in Contractions. Sue is excited to be performing at Hamptworth for the third time having previously appeared in Treasure Island and Anne Boleyn.
Tima, a disgruntled Wolf played by Donna Beddall
This is Donna's third acting role for the Maskers, having played a Lady in Waiting in open air show Anne Boleyn, and Sam Craig in October's studio play Our Town. Having trained in dance at university, Donna is really looking forward to the challenge and physicality The Jungle Book will bring, not to mention the fun, fur and fire along the way!
Snag, another disgruntled Wolf played by Lydia Rollin
The Jungle Book is Lydia's first production with Maskers. Lydia loves the theatre and – a good few years back – enjoyed performing in shows at school, college, and briefly, the National Youth Theatre. More recently she has been studying at university and working in HR Departments around the country. She is very excited to be joining the Company and to be on the stage again!
The Wolf Pack (monkeys/villagers) played by Brenda Atkinson, Bruce Atkinson, Millie Grundy, Hope Hamilton, Michelle Heffer, Poppy Lane, Enya Ryan, Thomas Welch, Elizabeth Russell, William Russell.