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    André De Shields to star in Mary Zimmerman’s ‘Jungle Book’

    Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
    Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman at the Huntington Theatre Company in 2011. She will return there in September with her new adaptation of “The Jungle Book.”

    Broadway veteran André De Shields will play King Louie the orangutan; veteran Boston actor Thomas Derrah will play Kaa, the wily serpent; and 10-year-old Akash Chopra will play little boy Mowgli in Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of “The Jungle Book” when it opens at the Huntington Theatre Company in September.

    Based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories and the 1967 Disney animated film, the world-premiere production will begin performances at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in June and come to Boston Sept. 7-Oct. 6.

    Richard Sherman, who with his late brother Robert composed the songs for the Disney movie, is writing new lyrics for the stage show, in collaboration with Zimmerman. He has also granted permission to music director Doug Peck — Zimmerman’s music director on “Candide,” seen last season at the Huntington — to adapt songs from the movie as well as some that Sherman and his brother wrote that were not used for the film. Sitar, tabla, and veena are among the instruments the 12-member orchestra will play.


    The cast of 18 will include Usman Ally as Bagheera, the panther who discovers Mowgli in the jungle; Elana Flores as Raksha, the Mother Wolf; Kevin Carolan as Baloo, the devil-may-care bear and sort-of mentor to Mowgli; Larry Yando as Shere Khan, the menacing tiger; and Glory Curda as the Little Girl. Geoff Packard, who played the title role in “Candide’’ at the Huntington, will be part of the ensemble of performers who portray wolves, elephants, monkeys, and other animals.

    “The Jungle Book’’ will be choreographed by Christopher Gattelli (“Newsies’’), with choreographer-dancer Hema Rajagopalan acting as a consultant. Daniel Ostling will design the set, and T.J. Gerckens is the lighting designer.

    Don Aucoin can be reached at