Growing up, my parents read to me after I got in bed each night. Some of my favorite stories came from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I thrilled to tales of Mowgli, the human boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India, and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Baloo the bear.
The Jungle Book stories have been portrayed on screen numerous times, most recently in 2016.
I hope parents still read to their children every night and, if they do, they include The Jungle Book stories in the mix.
This week, Mowgli and the whole gang come to life for five performances starting Thursday at our own Brazos Valley TROUPE. Performances will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Saturday and Feb. 4. All performances will be at TROUPE's 29th Street Studio, 3702 E. 29th St. in Bryan's Town & Country Center.
Tickets are $15, $7 for children 3 through 11. TROUPE members may purchase tickets for $12. They are available online at www.eventbrite.com or at the door if any remain. TROUPE members may reserve seats via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be no upfront table seating for this production, but a limited number of bistro tables at the back of the theater are available for $20 per person.
TROUPE's production of The Jungle Book actually is two version of the same classic tales.
TROUPE artistic/managing director M.A. Sterling said, "This will be the first production in TROUPE's history to be presented in repertory with two theatrical pieces in one performance. The first half is Monica Flory's play rendition and the second half is Disney's musical version. While one is a dramatic piece, the other is a musical similar to what most folks are accustomed to, yet it is a bit different."
Sterling said, "The entire theatre is being converted into a jungle setting that will set the atmosphere for this special presentation."
Cast members include Renee Berger, Grace Bonaiti, Naomi Bonaiti, Jesse Burdine, Larkin Burdine, Maren Burdine, Isabel Burlin, Chloe Burrescia, Carabelle Case, Jadyn Case, Mikayla Fannin, Allie Fleener, Molly Fleener, Mya Hardin, Brit Holland, Emma Lawson, Marissa Moats, Macy Nugent, Paige Perrone, Addison Perry, Joshua Poirot, Evelyn Schmeichel, Jacob Smith, Caitlyn Stowers, Ron Toback-Wolf, Maddie Weeks, Emma West and Kentaro Yamauchi.
The design crew includes Shelby Rowan, costume design; Lauren Fickey, scenic/ambiance design); Laura Shahan and Calista Moats, lighting design; and Sterling, music scoring. Technical operations will be by Moats, Andrew Dixon and Sterling, with Sterling directing both theatrical pieces in the production.
Sterling said, "This is a classic and, with the way we are presenting it, the audience will get two shows in one. I love the fact that not only will the audience be getting great variety with the production but our performers will get to prep, present and produce a variety of styles as well.
"The story is known to many but these variations are, more than likely, new to most people. We love bringing newness to a classic.
"This production will also serve as a great segue to our 25th season -- "Everything Old Is New Again!" -- which will celebrate our 24-year history by looking back on previously produced works while presenting them with a certain new shininess for our audiences and our performers and designers alike."
American playwrights have produced many powerful and important dramas over the years, but we here in the Brazos Valley often don't get the chance to see them without having to travel 100 or more miles. In the coming weeks, though, we will have the chance to experience great works by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and we should take the opportunity to see both.
StageCenter will open its three-week run of Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Feb. 8. More on the production will appear in Arts Watch next Sunday.
First, though, Unity Theatre in downtown Brenham begins its three-week run of Arthur Miller's second -- and first successful -- play, All My Sons, Thursday night. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 18.
Tickets are $27 and $15 for students. On Thursday's preview night, all tickets are $19. They are available at the box office in the theater lobby at 300 Church St. in Brenham. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and 90 minutes prior to each performance. For Thursday's opening night, all tickets are $17. Tickets also may be purchased with a credit card online at unitybrenham.org or by calling 979-830-8358.
Any seats unsold 15 minutes before each performance are available at the ticket window for $15 on a first-come basis.
Following Thursday's performance, the audience is invited to remain after the show to have a talk-back with the cast and director. Thirty minutes prior to the Feb. 10 show, director Kate Revnell-Smith will talk about the production.
After Miller's first play folded after four performances, he vowed that he would find another line of work if All My Sons failed. Fortunately for Miller -- and for theater audiences -- the play was a success and he would go on to write Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and A View from the Bridge.
All My Sons is based on a true story of the early days of World War II when an Ohio defense contractor knowingly sold defective aircraft engines to the military before being turned in by employees unhappy with that state of affairs.
Revnell-Smith, who also is artistic director of Unity Theatre, said, "We have never done an Arthur Miller here at Unity so it was high time! Considered his first major work in 1947, it's themes of personal ethics, responsibility and familial relationships are still relevant in today's world."
She said, "What can audiences expect? An intense drama dealing with greed, corruption, betrayal, divided loyalties, a love story (if you can believe it!"). An exciting night at the theater."
The cast includes James Belcher, Jamie Ward, Benjamin McLaughlin, Ellen Dryer, Justin O'Brien, Rob de los Reyes, Susan Draper, Shelby Bray, Zachary Braver and Connor Sloan. Belcher is a member of Actors Equity Association.
In addition to Revnell-Smith as director, the crew includes Alan Will, production stage manager; Torsten Louis, set design; David Gipson, lighting design; Kris Hanssen, costume design; and Bryan Ealey, sound design.
Revnell-Smith said All My Sons is appropriate for all ages, but children 12 and younger "would probably not understand it too well."
The always-interesting Brazos Valley African American Museum has a new exhibit that looks at the economic impact and cultural influences of the Transatlantic slave trade in North and South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It is a subject as important today as it ever has been.
African Diaspora: Defining the Americas was researched and curated by longtime community leader Wayne Sadberry. It features "art, artifacts, agricultural commodities, and a slave bill of sale from the Brazos Valley."
The exhibit will be on display through April 30.
The Brazos Valley African American Museum is located at 500 E. Pruitt St. in Bryan. It is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Feb. 9 through Feb. 25 -- Too Soon for Daisies, Navasota Theatre Alliance, 104 W. Washington Ave. in downtown Navasota. Fridays and Saturdays and Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. and Sundays and Feb. 24 at 2 p.m., $7 to $14. (navasotatheatre.org)
• Feb. 8 through 24 -- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, StageCenter, 201-B W. 26th St. in Downtown Bryan, above Mr. G's Pizza, $12 - $15. (www.stagecenter.net)
• Feb. 10 -- KEOS Mardi Gras party fundraiser, 6-9 p.m., $25 suggested donation at the door, email email@example.com by Thursday for location and to RSVP.
• February 18 -- Bach, Buxtehude, and the Reformation concert sponsored by St. Thomas Episcopal Church and the Brazos Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 906 George Bush Drive in College Station, 5 p.m. free.
• Feb. 23 through March 4 -- Camelot, The Theatre Company, behind JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Bryan's Tejas Center, $7 to $20. (www.theatrecompany.com)
• Feb. 25 -- Russians and Ravel, Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra with special guests the Brazos Valley Chorale, 5 p.m., Rudder Auditorium, $13 to $39 in advance, MSC Box Office. (979-845-1234, www.bvso.org)
• March 3 -- 15th Annual Art of Helping Children Gala sponsored by Voices for Children, 6 p.m., Brazos County Expo, $100. (vfcbrazos.org)
• April 21 -- Annual Sundown Social sponsored by the Washington on the Brazos State Park Association at Rockin' Star Ranch in Brenham, featuring a steak dinner, cocktails and a performance by singer Dale Watson, 6 p.m. (979-830-1824 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Every Sunday -- Open mics and poetry slams sponsored by Mic Check Poetry, 8:30 p.m. Revolution Café in Downtown Bryan, (miccheckpoetry.com)
Items for Arts Watch should be emailed to email@example.com. Deadline is noon Tuesday before the weekend you want it to run.