Author Rudyard Kipling once wrote a tale of a young boy who grows up in the jungle. On Sept. 23, the USC Aiken University Theatre Playground Players will present that story.


“The Jungle Book” will begin at 7:30 p.m., in the Etherredge Center.


The man-club Mowgli lives in the depths of the Indian jungle, is raised by wolves and is friends with a bear, snake and panther.


Student-director Lauren Ellis chose this story due to its range of characters and popularity.


“I love the story,” she said. “The characters are so much fun ... and so vibrant.”


She feels, too, that since the characters are so different they will be plenty of variety to keep the children entertained. For example, there’s the frightful tiger Shere Khan, played by Daniel Burkett. Shere Khan aspires to rule the jungle, and Mowgli’s out to stop him.


Burkett, a theater student, has never played a villain before now.


“I thought it would be interesting to be evil,” he said. “It’s really fun. I like it.”


Before this role, Burkett has been Charlie Brown in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and was in USCA’s last year’s Experimental Relief program.


A monkey and even a human, besides Mowgli, are parts in the show.


The play is based off Kipling’s original stories, Ellis said. One way the students will be keeping to Kipling is through their costumes. Instead of putting on animal suits, for example, the cast will wear clothes keyed into the Indian culture.


This choice affected their color choices, setting and movements, Ellis said.


“The challenging part is finding the balance,” Burkett said on the moving part.


One factor audiences will notice a difference in is with the role of Mowgli, played by sophomore Kelsie Blocker. Blocker doesn’t think the gender swap will be a problem for the young audience.


“Children don’t really get gender identity until later on,” she said.


Her main focus is just to play Mowgli as the child he is.


“He’s just a little kid,” she said.


Other cast members include Sydney Fowler, Alex Newton, Paris Cameron, Jessica Sandifer, Matti Burns, Tierra Saxon and Casey Davis.


“We are putting a lot of time and energy into (this),” Blocker said. “I think it’s going to be a really good product.”


For more information, call 803-641-3305 or visit www.web.usca.edu/etherredge-center.


Stephanie Turner has a hand on all areas of production for the Aiken Standard, where she reports, edits and designs pages. She graduated in July 2012 with a journalism degree from Valdosta State University and lives with her family in Evans, Ga.