Forget Disney. The latest version of the Jungle Book by the Emporium Theatre cuts out the kitsch and brings in some catchy music and an emotional twist.

The show is pure fun. The backbone of the cast is provided by a talented group actors picked from local Brighton schools. The chosen few displayed huge enthusiasm – they never missed a beat or dance steps.

The curtain raiser is Laurie Williams, aged eight (sans acting experience) as the baby Mowgli playing hide and seek in the jungle. The audience loved him.

The finale, If You Ever Need A Friend, features the full cast dancing and singing but highlight of the show was the interaction between Baloo (the bear) and Mowgli (the man cub).

Doug Devaney is immensely engaging as the gruff, kindly bear but the eye catcher is the young Kamari Romeo as the grown Mowgli who adds an understated emotional intensity to the role – not to mention an ability to hold the audience and sustain a tune.

The somewhat tired theme of the original film is revived by the emphasis on the conflict between ties of family and friendship, betrayal and trust.

It is definitely a show to be recommended. Take your kids. They will thank you.

Four stars