77x77_junglebook.jpgFrom now until September 23 Disney’s El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. will be showing Disney’s classic animated feature The Jungle Book, the last film that Walt Disney himself worked on. Last Thursday night an opening night filmmaker’s panel was held to kick off the two week engagement. Photos and a rundown of the event follow:

The marquee on Hollywood Blvd. announces the big event.

Baloo greets theater patrons inside

Theater organist Rob Richards revs the crowd up with some lively Disney tunes

L to R: Richard Sherman, Chad Stuart, Darleen Carr, Andreas Deja, Bruce Reitherman, Don Hahn

The panel presentation began with a video playback on the big screen of Phil Harris (voice of Baloo) performing the song “The Bare Necessities” on the Hollywood Palace television show in 1968. Then the evening’s host, Don Hahn, came on stage to introduce the panelists after first quipping about the “cold” 90-degree weather in Hollywood and mentioning that Janie Reitherman, wife of Jungle Book director Woolie Reitherman was in attendance. The first panelist, composer Richard Sherman discussed taking over songwriting duties from Terry Gilkyson and working with the wild and crazy Louis Prima on the “I Wanna Be Like You” song. Chad Stuart, who provided the voice for one of the vultures in the film, talked about his excitement when he found out he’d been selected to provide a voice in a Disney film. He had been noticed when his songs “Yesterday’s Gone” and “Summer Song” (as part of the duo of “Chad and Jeremy”) came to popularity in the mid-1960’s. Darleen Carr, the singing voice of Shanti, the Indian girl who captures Mowgli’s attention at the end of the film, talked of being first noticed by Richard Sherman then by Walt Disney, who eyed her as a possible replacement for Hayley Mills. Current Disney animator Andreas Deja told of his experience of multiple viewings of The Jungle Book in Germany at the age of 10 and the profound effect it had on him and how it influenced his choice of career. He also showed some concept art and some pencil animation done by Frank Thomas. Bruce Reitherman (voice of the mancub Mowgli) related his experience as a child actor on the film’s set and how the animators incorporated some of his unique mannerisms into the character of Mowgli.

After the panel discussion Chad Stuart performed a solo rendition of “Summer Song” followed by Richard Sherman performing songs from Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and The Jungle Book, and finished off his performance with perhaps his most famous song, the song that he said is a prayer for peace in the world, “It’s a Small World.”

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Original Jungle Book production cells from the private collection of Rob Richards on display in the theatre lobby

The Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store adjacent to the theater also sported a Jungle Book theme with plenty of mechandise and even a Jungle Book ice cream sundae:

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And coming next month to the El Capitan will be the now annual engagement of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D: