Our tale begins deep in the heart of the Jungle. A baby boy, lost and abandoned, is raised by wolves. He is called “Mowgli” (“Jungle Prologue”).
Shere Kahn, the tiger, decides that Mowgli is no longer welcome in the Jungle. To keep him out of danger, Bagheera, the panther, plans to guide Mowgli to the safety of the man village, but Mowgli doesn’t want to leave his home. The two settle down for the night under a coconut tree, but their peaceful night is interrupted by Kaa, the Snake (“Kaa the Snake”). Bagheera doesn’t notice as Kaa lulls Mowgli into a deep sleep (“Trust in Me”). Bagheera wakes up to find Kaa coiled around Mowgli and chases the snake away (“Night into Day”).
As they continue their journey, they encounter a herd of elephants, led by the dotty Colonel Hathi (“Colonel Hathi’s March”). As the elephants march off, Bagheera commands Mowgli to follow him without any more argument. Mowgli sits and pouts on a large boulder, only to discover that it is the giant bear, Baloo (“Baloo the Bear”).
Baloo offers Mowgli his philosophy on life, which is quite different from what Bagheera has been teaching (“The Bare Necessities”). While Baloo is lost in that swingin’ jungle rhythm, a group of shifty-looking monkeys tiptoes in and kidnaps Mowgli. Caught off guard, Baloo calls to Bagheera for help while the monkeys carry Mowgli deep into the jungle, laughing all the way (“Monkey Business”).
The monkeys take Mowgli to the ancient ruins, where their leader, the wiley King Louie, is holding court. King Louie tells Mowgli that he wants to learn how to be a man while Baloo and Bagheera sneak on and devise a rescue plan. Baloo, disguised as a very big monkey, will join in the fun to distract King Louie while Bagheera spirits Mowgli away (“I Wan’na Be Like You”).
Baloo can’t get enough of that jumpin’ jazz, and insists on an encore. He continues to swing until his disguise falls off, blowing their cover and forcing them to run (“I Wan’na Be Like You – Reprise”). The monkeys frantically follow in pursuit, but are stopped dead in their tracks when Shere Khan appears. He sharpens his claws and the monkeys scatter in terror (“Shere Khan the Tiger”).
After their monkey attack, Baloo now realizes the Jungle is too dangerous for Mowgli and, together with Bagheera, they agree to get him out of the jungle. Mowgli overhears and, not wanting to leave his home, defiantly runs away. Baloo and Bagheera rush off to find him, hoping that Shere Khan doesn’t find him first (“Mowgli Runs”).
Away from the safety of Baloo and Baghera, Mowgli finds friendship in the other jungle creatures, who promise to protect him if Shere Khan should come around (“That’s What Friends Are For”).
Shere Khan arrives and prepares to attack Mowgli, but before he can pounce, Baloo appears, rallying the other jungle creatures into battle (“The Battle”). The battle ends with the jungle creatures victorious and Shere Khan cowering in the distance, humiliated and defeated. Once again, the jungle is safe.
Shanti, a beautiful young girl who has been hiding in the jungle the whole time, finally reveals herself. She offers to take Mowgli to her village to meet other people just like him. Mowgli decides to explore the “man village” with Shanti, but reminds his friends he will return, for he will always consider the Jungle his home (“The Bare Necessities – Reprise/Finale”).
As the curtain falls, the jungle inhabitants return once more to celebrate that swingin’ jungle beat (“I Wan’na Be Like You – Reprise/Bows”).