Tuesday, July 14, 2015
|Katie DeShan and Devon Archer. All photos by Isaac James Creative|
|Daebreon Poiema and Devon Archer|
Casting is superb. Daebreon Poiema’s luscious singing voice and nuanced portrayal of mama ape Kala gets the audience’s full and complete empathy as protectress of her adopted son Tarzan (Devon Archer). Archer takes a character that could easily end up as a series of tricks and stereotypes and turns him into an endearing, funny, sweet, and ultimately smart young man whose instincts prove to be rock solid throughout. When he meets Jane, Katie DeShan (darling as the spunky, naïve, and hilariously clumsy professor’s daughter with a predilection for bugs), their natural chemistry opens the door to romance for two people, neither of whom possesses much in the way of social graces when it comes to the opposite sex. The fact that their meet cute takes place while she’s being swallowed by a man eating plant only makes it better.
Lawrence Cummings (Terk) has mastered the art of comic relief and provides it whether he’s clowning around or joyously scatting his way through a song. Casting a handsome, charismatic actor like Marc Cedrik Smith rather than a more typical character man like Shuler Hensley, who originated the role of ape leader Kerchak, somehow makes him more vulnerable. The contrast between that vulnerability and his intimidating stage presence and voice makes us care about him, even if we don’t like what he does to Tarzan. And as Professor Porter, Joey D’Auria offers common sense wisdom with a twinkle in his eye and a father’s love in his heart.
|Devon Archer as Tarzan and the cast of Tarzan the Musical|
Stephen Gifford’s whimsical three dimensional storybook set design is a marvel of design solutions and his ability to provide ways for a cast to interact with his set to enrich their characters is delightful. What this designer can do with wood and paint will astound you and how lighting designer Jean-Yves Tessier lights the pieces and creates the rest of the jungle world will make you smile at the enchanting result. Wait until you see the reveal of his moonlight on the water. It’s a breathtaking moment.
Another large part of the magic comes from Paul Rubin’s flying sequences and aerial choreography. The opening storm at sea and shipwreck is staged like the original and is as stunning here as it was on Broadway. Indeed, if it had continued to deliver on that magic throughout the show it might have fared better.
Here, with Rubin’s creativity, you get gorillas endlessly catapulting through the air, aerial fight scenes, and a beautiful butterfly and insect ballet floating overhead. Combined with the ingenuity of Linda Love Simmons’ on-the-ground ape choreography, it is a wholly integrated world of wonder.
Much like the forever bond between parent and child, 3-D Theatricals’ Tarzan the Musical further stakes its claim as a Southern California’s destination for Broadway – and in this case, better than Broadway – entertainment. It gets the green light from me.
|Marc Cedric Smith as Kerchak|
|The cast of Tarzan the Musical|
|Devon Archer and Dominique Alan Petit Frere|
|Katie DeShan (center) and the cast of Tarzan the Musical|
|Brian Abraham, Joey D'Auria and Katie DeShan|
TARZAN THE MUSICAL
July 11 – 26, 2015: Plummer Auditorium
August 1 - 9, 2015: Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
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Labels: 3D Theatricals
7:22 PM |