Tarzan Jr. Presented by CMT

Mar 26, 2014 | 2014 Articles, Terrance V. Mc Arthur

by Terrance Mc Arthur

Tarzan Jr. doesn’t swing or yell, but the show does.

Children’s Musical Theaterworks in Fresno likes a challenge. Tarzan Jr., an adapted, simplified version of the Broadway musical, with book by David Henry Hwang, based on the Disney film with music and lyrics by Phil Collins, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1910 novel Tarzan of the Apes, is a challenge.

Turning a Disney animated film into a stage show is akin to trying to get Michelangelo’s “David” to sing and dance. The media are completely different, so the challenges are great.

To put this show on the stage, set designer Matt McGee created a mammoth jungle gym…in a jungle. There are things to crawl through, ramps to run up, trees to climb over, and ropes to swing on (although I’d have liked the rope vines to be more than background moments). Trina Maxson Short did torture to yards of fabric to design costumes that made a lot of people go ape. Director Jenny Myers turned a cartoon into life. These people did a lot of work.

Jane played by Logan Carnation, Tarzan played by Jordan Taylor, and Clayton played by Andrew Kidder

You know who Tarzan is, right? Orphaned when his shipwrecked, British-nobility parents are killed, he is raised by apes, not knowing of humans until a scientific explorer reaches the area with his daughter…Jane. That’s right. “Me, Tarzan. You, Jane,” only that’s not the real line.

Jordan Taylor has great hair. Jordan is slender. Jordan is graceful. Jordan plays Tarzan. His character’s thirst and quest for knowledge comes across as sincere, and his lean, nimble body propels him across the stage.

Madison Fray alternates with Logan Carnation as Jane. Madison is engaging as the Victorian young lady who finds herself taking a walk on the wild side.

Mother played by Hailey Strahm, Father played by Mitchell Lam Hau

Brandon Delsid has been stealing scenes for much of his young life, and he collects a number of them here as Terk, the gorilla voiced in the Disney animation by Rosie O’Donnell. He has swagger. He has style. He has a bright-tipped, ornate fauxhawk. He comes off as the Artful Dodger with lots of body hair.

Cady Mejia and Hudson Short shine as Tarzan’s foster gorilla-parents. Mejia puts a lot of love and caring into each line as Nala, and Short is gruff and ominous as Kerchak, leader of the gorilla band. Mitchell Lam Hau plays both Tarzan’s father and the dotty Professor Porter.

This Tarzan doesn’t swing over the audience or yell like Johnny Weismuller, but he is Lord of the Stage. Tarzan Jr. plays at Fresno’s Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium through March 30. for tickets and more information, go to www.cmtworks.org or call (866)-973-9610 one hour before each show.

You can find more theatre reviews and entertainment articles in KRL’s arts & entertainment section.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.

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