Jungle Book in Dubai

Jungle Book adaptation coming to the First Group Theatre in Dubai


You’re very into your music. What are your favourite bands?
Good question. I’d say The Grizzlies. They’re an alternative rock group from Philadelphia and they get me groovin! The top songs on my iPod right now are Teddy Bear Hug – my favourite ballad from The Wiggles Greatest Hits and Jungle Boogie from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

You’ve been through some dark times. Are you okay to talk about them?
Yeah... The pressures of show business are really tough. And when you’re a young and famous alpha male with lots of temptations, things can get a little wild. Know what I mean? But you get through the ‘I’m a tortured, hedonistic celebrity’ stage and you learn not to party quite so hard the next time. I’m a vegan now. I also practise yoga and Thai Chi daily.

You were born in 1893. What keeps you so young?
I can still swing with the best of em’ baby! But as I said, I’m careful about what I eat, and I exercise too. During the dark times, I ballooned to 800lbs. I got addicted to Krispy Kreme doughnuts and the Jeremy Kyle Show. Then I had a nasty accident involving a broken tree and I knew it was time to get fit. After that I got all these celebrity tie-in offers. I was invited on Dancing with the Stars, Tracy Anderson wanted us to make a fitness DVD and Gwyneth Paltrow asked me to collaborate on a cookbook.

Did you take them up on those offers?
No. I don’t cook. And anyway, I’m still holding out for I’m a Celebrity… Get me out of here!

Some people say you’ve been rather type-cast. What’s your reaction?
I don’t listen to all that jazz. If somebody says, ‘Baloo, what else have you done apart being in The Jungle Book?’ I say, ‘What else do I need to do?’ If this is being type-cast, I’ll take it!

Which Jungle Book cast member do you get on with the best?
Shere Khan. That dude is a pussy cat. He’s such a talented performer that fans don’t always separate him from his stage persona. They think he’s a bad ass in real life and they write him hate mail and stuff. The last movie we saw together was Kung Fu Panda II. He wept like a baby when he thought Po’s family had bought it.

Talking of movies, what’s your current favourite?
I like fun stuff. All that serious ‘taking over the world’ and ‘suffering for your art’ stuff tends to ruin my mood. I’m big on musicals and cartoons. My favourite TV shows are SuperTed and Gentle Ben. I’ve played cameos in both – just in case you were wondering.

If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be?
Charles Darwin. The guy had serious issues with all that ‘animals being less developed than humans’ mumbo jumbo. But you know, I love a good debate. It’s healthy, as Oprah would say. The other person I’d like to have dinner with is Helena Bonham Carter… [winks]

We heard a rumour that King Louie won’t be in the Dubai show…
Mmmm. Yeah, well [looks awkward] its kinda embarrassing. His agent double-booked him to take part in It’s a Knockout in Tokyo this month, so he’s committed elsewhere. It’s a big disappointment for him. He’d planned a trip up the Burj Khalifa and booked his best girl a table at Atmosphere… But his monkey crew will be there, and he’ll be with them in spirit.

What’s your take on school dinners?
Say what! You’re asking Baloo about school dinners? What kind of magazine is this anyway?

Seriously. We’d like to know…
Mmm. Okay. Let’s see… They should serve more green stuff, and Jamie Oliver needs to sack his stylist…

The Jungle Book is live on stage at the First Group Theatre, The Madinat, October 10-15, with morning and afternoon performances, Dhs120-140. For more information visit www.itp.net/tickets

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