NightBlue Performing Arts Company begins its 10th season with Disney’s TARZAN: The Stage Musical. Expect to be whisked away to the jungles of Africa within this magical, family-friendly production. Fans of Disney’s animated movie will not be disappointed in this affectionate adaptation for the stage.
Just in case you are not familiar with the story, here is the basic plot. An infant boy is found in the jungle by a gorilla. He is taken in and raised by the gorilla family. He eventually meets those of “his own kind” and needs to choose where he belongs.
Feeling of Family
Although Tarzan is the center of the story, this production feels more like an ensemble piece. The plot focuses heavily on family and loyalty. The feeling of family among the cast is palpable. The ensemble of apes moves as one. It feels almost tribal at times. The choreographer and director, Kevin Bellie, has successfully coached his actors into a portrayal of a union that is rarely achieved on stage. The ape-like movements are lifelike and realistic.
While the story can be emotional at times, the production never loses its heartfelt whimsy. Audiences will most likely remember the hit song “You’ll Be In My Heart” from the film and radio play. What they may not recall are some of the other fun and beautiful songs. They range from playful dance songs to sweet, intimate love songs.
Movement and Setting
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this production is the atmosphere. The set and lighting design, by Bob Knuth, and Wayne O. Wendell respectively, create an aura that captures the meaning of the show. The brilliantly colored lights put the audience directly in the setting. The platforms and swinging vines evoke all the feelings and memories anyone has with the story of Tarzan and its many incarnations. This profound and intangible undercurrent make this show beautiful.
For those of us who wanted something more than the Disney movie this will likely disappoint. The movie, in fact, has the benefit of much stronger vocal performances. That said, if you can’t get enough of the story, this production will be pleasurable.
Top Pick For: Families
Not recommended for: Those seeking intellectual theatre
April 12 - May 14, 2017
Saturdays 2:30PM and 7:30PM
1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
$35, $32 and $25
Online at www.stage773.com
By phone at 773-327-5252
Photos: Drew Peterson