Tarzan, which stars Josh Strickland in the title role with All Shook Up's Jenn Gambatese as Jane, marks the Broadway directorial debut for Crowley, who is known for his innovative, Tony-winning designs for such shows as Carousel and Aida.
About Disney's fourth Broadway musical — Tarzan follows Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Aida — Disney Theatricals President Thomas Schumacher told The Journal News that the design team has "created a universe on stage, a flexible environment in which the show is staged both on the ground and above the ground. . . . Everybody wears a visible harness. There are visible ropes all over the stage, both for gorillas and for Tarzan — and you see them literally clip in and harness up. It's part of the language of the piece." Schumacher says, however, it is not a "circus show" but a straightforward Broadway musical that attempts to answer the question, "What is family?"
The Tarzan family also includes Merle Dandridge as Kala, Shuler Hensley as Kerchak, Chester Gregory II as Terk, Timothy Jerome as Professor Porter and Donnie Keshawarz as Clayton. Daniel Manche and Alex Rutherford will alternate in the role of Young Tarzan. The ensemble comprises Darrin Baker, Marcus Bellamy, Celina Carvajal, Dwayne Clark, Veronica deSoyza, Kearran Giovanni, Michael Hollick, Joshua Kobak, Kara Madrid, Kevin Massey, Anastacia McCleskey, Rika Okamoto, Marlyn Ortiz, Whitney Osentoski, John Elliott Oyzon, Andy Pellick, Angela Phillips, Stefan Raulston, Horace V. Rogers, Sean Samuels, Nick Sanchez, Niki Scalera, Natalie Silverlieb, JD Aubrey Smith and Rachel Stern.
Tarzan features a score by Phil Collins, including five songs from the Disney film and nine songs written especially for the stage production. Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang has written the musical's book based on both the Disney film and the original Edgar Rice Burroughs story "Tarzan of the Apes." The creative team also includes Meryl Tankard (choreography), Pichón Baldinu (aerial design), Natasha Katz (lighting design), John Shivers (sound design), Paul Bogaev (music producer/vocal arrangements) and Doug Besterman (orchestrations).
Tarzan, according to press notes, begins as "a shipwreck leaves an infant orphaned on the West African shore. The helpless baby is taken under the protection of a gorilla tribe and becomes part of their family. When he eventually encounters his first human — Jane Porter, a curious young explorer — both their worlds are transformed forever." Song titles include "Two Worlds," "You'll Be In My Heart," "Jungle Funk," "Who Better Than Me?," "No Other Way," "I Need to Know," "Son of Man," "Sure As Sun Turns to Moon," "Waiting for This Moment," "Different," "Trashin' the Camp," "Like No Man I've Ever Seen," "Strangers Like Me," "For the First Time" and "Everything That I Am."
Josh Strickland has been seen as Mark and Roger in the national tour of Rent. He was a national finalist on FOX-TV's "American Idol" and appeared on "Star Search 2004."
Jenn Gambatese played both Natalie Haller and Ed in last season's All Shook Up. On Broadway she has also been seen in Footloose, Hairspray and A Year with Frog and Toad. Gambatese was also part of Off-Broadway's Reefer Madness and both the European and North American tours of Fame.
Tarzan will officially open May 10 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, located in Manhattan at 226 West 46th Street.
Because of the complex design and expected changes, tickets will be lower priced during the preview period. Says Disney's Schumacher, "When you come in the early weeks, you'll see a show that's in process, which is why the pricing reflects that. If you're really curious about what we're doing, you'll come see it."
Tickets are available by calling (212) 307-4100 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.
For more information visit www.tarzanonbroadway.com.