Kevin Carolan as Baloo in the Huntington’s production of The Jungle Book, with Akash Chopra as Mowgli
Kevin Carolan as Baloo in the Huntington's production of The Jungle Book, with Akash Chopra as Mowgli

Kevin Carolan's resume pops with credits to make anyone in "the business" a little jealous.

From creating the role of Teddy Roosevelt in Disney's Newsies the Musical at Paper Mill Playhouse and on Broadway to playing Amos Hart in Chicago on several national tours to a recurring role on HBO's Boardwalk Empire and appearances on The Middle, The Good Wife and Curb Your Enthusiasm on TV, the affable actor has it made, it seems.

Carolan even has a caricature of himself, penned by the late, great artist Al Hirschfeld embellishing his website home page.

He could be full of himself. But he isn't. And that's what makes him so likeable and easy to talk with.

"I had a wonderful experience with Hirschfeld and consider myself lucky to have that drawing by him," he said recently, chatting on his cell phone on the way to The Jungle Book rehearsals at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston.

Carolan stars as Baloo in a new production of show, based on the 1967 Disney movie and Rudyard Kipling's 1893 collection of classic stories set in the Indian jungle. It plays the Huntington Sept. 7-Oct. 13 after a hugely successful summer run at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where it was named the summer's "hot ticket" by USA Today.

"It has a different tone than the Disney film, but it fuses closely to the screenplay, with eye-popping costumes and sets. Our designers have worked closely alongside Mary (adaptor/director Mary Zimmerman) so they have one collective creative mind that really brings the lushness of the Indian jungle to life," said Carolan.


"The way my team and I make a show is such a whirlwind the first time around it's always desirable to have a place to go where we can continue to work after catching our breath," said Zimmerman, who directed the Huntington's 2011 production of Candide, the highest grossing musical in its 31-year-history.

The new Jungle Book adaptation is a music-and-movement filled adventure about young Mowgli's coming-of-age in the animal kingdom. It features some of the movie's best-loved songs, including "Bare Necessities," with new Indian-inspired arrangements. Academy Award and Grammy winner Richard M. Sherman, whose songwriting credits with his brother Robert B. Sherman include The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The ArtistoCats, collaborates on the production.

Baloo is a "kind of free spirit who takes Mowgli under his wing," said Carolan, who knew the movie as a child and loved Baloo, who was voiced by the late Phil Harris, an actor-singer known for his distinct voice.

"I grew up with Baloo and Phil Harris' version abides with me," he said. "I play Baloo with a little of him, a little of The Dude from The Big Lebowski and a little Bing Crosby."

Working on the new adaptation is a treat, he noted, especially since the film version was the last thing that Walt Disney worked on before he died.

The talent is "incredible," noted Carolan.

While he and the other actors are contracted only through October, it's only natural to wonder where The Jungle Book is headed after the Huntington, especially with Disney involved.

"It's hard to tell whether it will go to Broadway. There was talk of an international tour," said Carolan. "A further life would be lovely."

No word on that at this point. But, said Thomas Schumacher, president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions. "The Huntington Theatre Company is one of the country's great theatres, and we are thrilled to be working with them as we embark on the next chapter in The Jungle Book's evolution."

Tickets are $25-$135. One extension was already announced. Call 617-266-0800 or visit or in person at box offices at BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., or Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont St.

On the marquee

No Published CaptionSun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
No Published Caption

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our MyCapture site.
  • THEATRE EXPO: Over 50 theatre companies of all styles and sizes from the Greater Boston area, including Lowell's Merrimack Repertory Theatre and Greater Lowell Music Theatre, will showcase their upcoming seasons at the Greater Boston Theatre Expo 2013 on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston. The free event is open to the public and gives people a chance to meet reps and artists from the region's fringe, small, mid-size and large theatre companies, learn about upcoming productions and take advantage of Expo-only ticket offers and giveaways. Visit for more info and a list of participating theatres.
  • NEW ENGLAND PREMIERE: Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St., Stoneham, launches its 2013-2014 season with the New England premiere of Theresa Rebeck's Seminar, directed by Weylin Symes and running Sept. 12-29. Direct from Broadway and written by the creator of the TV show Smash, Seminar is about what happens when four young writers hire a world-famous novelist to teach a seminar and end up getting the schooling of their lives as tempers, egos and libidos flare. The show, recommended for adults, contains brief nudity and much profanity. for tickets and info.
  • RIDE ON: Producers of Cavalia's Odysseo announced on Tuesday that the riding extravaganza, featuring 63 horses and 47 human artists, will extend their stay under the Big White Top at Assembly Row in Somerville for a seventh week through Sept. 22. Tickets start at $34.50 and are available at 866-999-8111 or or at the box office on the show site, located at the intersection of I-93 and Rt. 28.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is