By Jennifer Schlüter
After successful shows in Fullerton, TARZAN: The Stage Musical – based on the Disney film – opened at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center last Saturday. This impressive show produced by 3D Theatricals is absolutely worth the drive to the beach from the San Gabriel Valley!
Everyone who has seen the movie will recognize its songs and lines for the majority of the time; however, Phil Collins, who wrote and composed five songs for the movie, added nine new songs for the original Broadway production in 2006. Both are based on a newer book by David Henry Hwang, who constructed his story on the 1888 novel Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Broadway director Rufus Bonds, Jr. was assisted by T.J. Dawson and musical director and conductor Nick Petrillo. The 34 performers of all ages are led by an incredibly fit Devin Archer as Tarzan and the hilarious and cute Katie DeShan as Jane Porter. The youngest cast member is three-year-old Kingson Higgins.
Young Tarzan Jude Mason gives a stellar performance brachiating from jungle vines, singing “I Need to Know,” and roaming the jungle grounds with Terk. In this adaption of TARZAN, Terk is a male gorilla that stands out with his turquoise-spotted fur. Lawrence Cummings, who embodies Terk, has globally made a name for himself thanks to his incredible voice. Daebreon Poiema (Kala) and Mard Cedric Smith (Kerchak) as Tarzan’s parents are a powerfully paired couple, but also shine throughout their solos. The ensemble actors should be recognized not only for their stunts, acrobatics, and dancing, but also for the ability to perfectly imitate big cats and/or gorillas – with a hunched back and bent fingers and legs throughout most of the play.
While the musical was a pleasure to watch from beginning to end, two scenes stood out thanks to their stage effects and designs: Right at the beginning, when Tarzan’s parents are stranded, they walk down a vertical wall, aided by ropes, until they touch the stage – a great 3D effect. When Tarzan meets Jane later in the show, the actors shine in brilliant flower and animal costumes as a beautiful butterfly glides across with delicate wings.
Hopefully, you are now curious to see this fantastic play! TARZAN can be seen this weekend through Aug. 9 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Showtimes are this Friday and Saturday (Aug. 7 and 8) at 8 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 8 and 9) at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $20 – $70. For tickets, please call (714) 589-2770, or visit www.3dtshows.com. Group and Student discounts are available.