Casting Complete for New Disney Musical Tarzan; Strickland and Gambatese Star
By Andrew Gans
Complete casting has been announced for the forthcoming Disney musical Tarzan, which will begin previews March 24, 2006, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Heading the cast in the vine-swinging title role will be Josh Strickland with Jenn Gambatese as Jane.
The cast will also feature 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, Anastasia McCleskey, Rika Okamoto, Marlyn Ortiz, Whitney Osentoski, John Oyzon, Andy Pellick, Angela Phillips, Stefan Raulston, Horace V. Rogers, Sean Samuels, Nick Sanchez, Niki Scalera, Natalie Silverlieb, J.D. Aubrey Smith and Rachel Stern.
In a statement Thomas Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical Productions, said, "The creative team for Tarzan has re-imagined, and in some cases, reinvented characters from the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, and Disney’s animated film. We hope to bring a fresh perspective to the Tarzan legend, and we think that we have found a wonderful cast to make these roles their own.”
Tarzan will officially open May 10. Two-time Tony Award winner Bob Crowley (Aida, Carousel) will direct and design scenery and costumes for the new musical. Oscar and six-time Grammy Award winner Phil Collins has written the music and lyrics, "expanding his songs for Disney's film into a complete theatre score."
Tony Award-winner David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) has written the book, adapted from the screenplay by Tab Murphy, Bob Tzudiker and Noni White and based on the novel, "Tarzan of the Apes."
Choreography is by Meryl Tankard, with aerial movement by Pichón Baldinu (De La Guarda). Lighting design is by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Aida) and sound design is by John Shivers. Other members of the creative team include Paul Bogaev (Music Producer/Vocal Arrangements) and Doug Besterman (Orchestrations).
Phil Collins composed five songs for the 1999 film, "Disney's TARZAN," including "Two Worlds, One Family," "Strangers Like Me" and "You'll Be In My Heart," which won the 2000 Academy Award for Song of the Year, spent 10 weeks as No. 1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart.
The soundtrack went double platinum, while the film went on to "instant international success, grossing $447 million worldwide, with subsequent DVD sales in excess of 13 million units."
Collins makes his Broadway songwriting debut with Tarzan — he's penned music and lyrics for eight new songs for the Broadway production, which also borrows from his film score.
Respected designer Bob Crowley makes his Broadway directorial debut with the show. He won the Tony for his scenery for Aida and was acclaimed for his design for Mary Poppins in London.
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.
The Richard Rodgers Theatre is located at 226 West 46th Street. Tickets are currently available by calling (212) 307-4100 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Visit www.DisneyonBroadway.com for more information.
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