The Turbanator

A look under the hood of this season’s hottest new musical, The Jungle Book.


photograph by James Imbrogno

When the Huntington Theatre Company tapped Roslindale milliner Denise Wallace-Spriggs, 52, to help build costumes for a production of The Jungle Book, she was thrilled. Unlike previous productions of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale, the show, directed by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman, would draw on both the Disney animated film and the Indian cultures that inspired Kipling. Wallace-Spriggs’s task, then, was to design and build some 20 turbans. Each one had to echo traditional Indian haberdashery, while also creating a sense of the character who wore it. Here, Wallace-Spriggs gives us a sneak peek at a few of the show’s memorable designs.

Top to bottom:

Bagheera the Panther
“The panther has a suggestion of eyes in these golden jewels on his turban. The shape of the turban is supposed to echo the shape of a large cat’s head.”

Shere Khan the Tiger
“Shere Khan is the bad guy of the show. Mara Blumenfeld, our designer, wanted to show the idea of a tiger without being
too literal. Mara based her design on a man she saw in India wearing a similar turban, who was from an Indian army regiment and played the bagpipe.”

Baloo the Bear
“With Baloo we had to give the idea that he’s a bear, and that he has a particular kind of loose, laid-back personality. His turban is wrapped in a very gauzy cheesecloth and then he has fuzzy bear ears, because you sort of need bear ears when you’re talking bears.”