South Pointe’s adaptation of the musical “Tarzan,” based on the popular 1999 Disney film, hits all the plot points and creates a familiar atmosphere but doesn’t quite capture the magic of the movie.
The set wasn’t bad for a high school play. Some of the trees may have looked more like brown chimneys than tree trunks, but much detail was put into the jungle environment, which is important in a play that has merely one set to keep the audience interested.
The platforms the gorillas rested on and the use of blue sheets to create ocean waves and rivers were clever and visually appealing. One impressive scene showcases the color green, with latex flowers and plants dancing as Jane’s dress transforms into a spider web.
But the costumes of most of the gorillas weren’t as impressive. It took a while to realize the actors were playing gorillas, for those costumes made them appear more like jungle natives with war makeup and brown garb. The only characters that actually looked like apes were Kerchak and Terk, who wore black fuzzy costumes; the other gorillas, especially the important Kala, lacked that authenticity.
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The cast was fine overall, but not a single performance blew me away. Ammon Strong as Tarzan and Lauren Ramsey as Jane had good chemistry and were among the better actors. Jordan C. Davis stood out as the gruffly empowering Kerchak, and Charday Sparks provided a strong foil to him with a more gentle and sensitive personality as Kala.
Justin Norwood delivered a strong performance as the humorous Terk, and Bobby Faris provided plenty of laughs with his animated portrayal of Mr. Porter. Matthew Newman depicted a believably narcissistic and greed-driven antagonist in Clayton.
The singing was fine, but not necessarily worthy of the spotlight for pretty much any character. One of the biggest problems was the volume of the wireless microphones intermixed with the louder music. The vocals were hard to hear, and Liam Faulkenberry sang with a falsetto voice that didn’t work for young Tarzan.
Overall, the show didn’t deliver the amount of magic and energy it should have. When the magic did shine, it was a rare signal of what might have come from a cast that I know and have seen do better.