|Curtis Lunt and Emily Giauque Evans|
photo: Nick Woodward-Shaw
Click here for more information on this production that runs through August 22nd.
"While Disney had phenomenal success adapting The Lion King to the stage, their hit movie Tarzan didn't fare as well, running just a little over a year in New York. Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous story of a boy who loves and is loved by his ape family but soon becomes aware that he is different and doesn't quite fit in seems perfect fodder for a musical. While Hale Centre Theatre's fun-filled family production is a winner, with a strong cast and gorgeous production elements, the score and story are a bit slow going in places...the musical has a new book by David Henry Hwang and includes the five songs that Phil Collins wrote for the movie plus nine new ones he composed for the stage production. Shipwrecked and with his parents killed, the baby Tarzan ends up being raised by a gorilla couple. While Kerchak feels no bond with the human boy, his wife Kala immediately connects with him and brings him up into adulthood. However, when an expedition arrives in the jungle, Tarzan discovers humans and wrestles with identity issues when he realizes that he isn't a gorilla. He also discovers new strange feelings whenever he's around the English woman named Jane...Hwang's book is a little wooden at times and the added songs are ballad heavy, which combine to slow the show down and make it seem slightly padded...Even with the drawbacks of the script and score, director and choreographer Cambrian James instills plenty of energy in the Hale production, with vibrant choreography and some impressive gorilla-like movements by the ensemble and the actors playing Kala and Kerchak...As Tarzan, Curtis Lunt has the appropriate athletic physique, impressive vocals and inquisitive nature to be both physically imposing and playfully agile....Emily Giauque Evans' Jane has a heightened sense of enthusiasm, with her expressive eyes widening and glowing at the new discoveries she finds in the jungle....Lunt and Evans make a winning couple and their act two love duet "For the First Time" is expertly sung...Carrie Klofach brings a huge amount of heart to Kala, creating many poignant moments that instill the relationships Kala has with Tarzan and Kerchak with a sense of realism. Klofach meaningfully displays the deep bond, care, and connection of a loving mother in a very touching way. Ben Mason brings a fine sternness to the role of Kerchak while also being slightly ferocious, without being too scary for younger audience members, and is commanding as the leader of the tribe. Mason and Klofach make their duet "Sure as Sun Turns to Moon" heartfelt and genuine. ...Hale's production elements are excellent. The scenic design...creates an immersive experience, with the lush green flora and fauna of the jungle surrounding you on all sides. ..Mary Atkinson's new (costume) designs plus her coordination of the existing outfits is impressive. Jeff A. Davis' lighting designs are always superb and his Tarzan creations, which paint the lush and dark tones of the jungle in stunning swatches of color and shadow, are some of his best...While Hale's production can't do much to eliminate the few slow-going scenes and songs, it still manages to evoke plenty of poignancy in the high flying and fun adventure. And while Burroughs' tale and the Disney film are mainly known as a love story between Tarzan and Jane, Hale does an excellent job of capturing the strong and touching mother-son bond at the center of the story." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)
"...From the 1912 pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs through forty-eight films, including Disney's animated 1999 feature, and finally to the Broadway stage in 2006, the legend of the boy raised by gorillas to become the king of the jungle has delighted audiences young and old. In its musical iteration, romance is the central vine and the story line goes like this: "A man raised by gorillas must decide where he really belongs when he discovers he is a human."...Tarzan has been a mama's boy since he was first salvaged from the shipwreck that killed his parents...Kala (Carrie Klofach) has embraced the boy and been his protectress. There may be no more poignant moment in the production than when Kala and Tarzan reprise "You'll Be in My Heart," the song that won Phil Collins an Academy Award....Cambrian James has once again demonstrated his unique talents in both directing and choreographing a lively and spirited production....Supported by a remarkably well-balanced cast, (Emily Giauque) Evans and (Curtis) Lunt, two very fine vocalists, complement each other perfectly and give credibility to the evolving relationship of their characters from separate worlds....An elephant-size bunch of credit goes to Adam DeVaney, Brian Daily, Alex Fogle and Monica Christiansen for their imaginative and intricate set design. This foursome has managed to create the tone and mood of a jungle paradise, complete with vines and habitats fit for its denizens. Jane's fantastical entry into the jungle is one such memorable manifestation of the quality of their work ~ replete with colorful and dazzling flora and fauna....The spectacle is enhanced further by Mary Atkinson's splendid costume designs....Overall, Hale Centre Theatre's staging of TARZAN, running through August 22nd, is a grand summer treat for the entire family." -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)