Thursday, April 20, 2017

Review of NightBlue's Tarzan: The Stage Musical

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Tarzan. It was based on the Disney film adapted from the story "Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The music and lyrics were by Phil Collins, and the book was by David Henry Hwang. It was directed and choreographed by Kevin Bellie and the music director was Michael Kaish. It was about a man named Tarzan (Jomar Ferreras) who had been raised by apes since he was a boy (Jean-Eduard Rodriguez). Then a expedition comes to his jungle and he meets a girl named Jane (Rachel Juncker) and they develop a very close bond. It is about finding out who you truly are, remembering your roots, and doing whatever it takes for love. I enjoyed many of the performances in this show. It is not my favorite script for a musical, but I thought they did a good job with what they had.

I thought that Tarzan and Terk's (Juwon Tyrel Perry) relationship was really adorable. They seemed to have such a close friendship, which was really sweet. And it was so sad to see how much Terk didn't want Tarzan to go with Jane, because they were such close friends. They have a song called "Who Better Than Me?" that they sing twice. The first time it is Terk saying "Who better than me to become your mentor and friend?" and the second time it is "Who better than me to help you get the girl and help you be able to live among the humans?" I think that song worked really well for both of those situations and it was really heartwarming to see them reprise the song with a different meaning. Instead of Tarzan beginning his life with the apes, he is going away from it. Terk also had another really awesome song called "Trashing the Camp," which was mostly scat singing. And I was tapping my foot the whole time.

Tarzan's relationship with Kala (Khaki Pixley), his adoptive mother, is very close. It shows how important the relationship between a mother and her son is, even though they are not from the same species. That shows you that love has no boundaries and that love is love. I think that is a pretty good moral to a story. They sing a song together, "You'll Be in my Heart," that is all about how she is always going to protect Tarzan. The second time they sing it, it almost made me cry. It was really moving to see a relationship between a son and mother that was so close and to see them leaving each other.

Tarzan and Jane's relationship was really cool to see grow throughout the course of the play. They had a very pedagogical relationship, meaning that they would teach each other things. The song, "Strangers Like Me," that they sang together, was really cool and crazy catchy. I'm still singing it. It is about how they want to know everything about the other person's culture. They respected each other's culture more than the other people on Jane's expedition, especially Clayton (Garret Haley), who wanted to kidnap gorillas and sell them to circuses. Tarzan and Jane's relationship was also super charming and adorable. I thought how they acted with each other on stage seemed really natural.

I'm not sure this was a good movie to make into a live musical because it is literally a story that is about a man and his family of apes and it is kind of hard to represent those apes well on stage. I think the actors did as well as they could be expected to do, but they still have to speak and sing, which does not make them seem like apes. In the movie it worked because it was all animated. It is adding on another layer of disbelief to have them be played by humans when you can see their bodies. Talking animals are fine in a animated movie, or even on stage, but you are supposed to be noticing all the cultural differences between apes and humans in this show, and how they should all be treated with respect, but it seems sometimes like just humans and humans in different costumes. The moral of the movie is that we should treat all living things with the same respect, even if we're different. But I felt like the differences got lost here without animation or real gorillas.

People who would like this show are people who like crazy-catchy songs, adorable relationships, and scat-singing apes. I think this was a fun show. It had some awesome songs and performers.

Photos: Drew Peterson

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