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Tarzan Musical On Broadway: Cast album review

Guest review by Maik Frömmrich (

Disney, the entertainment giant, has a new show on Broadway. Opinions about the Tarzan show that is based on the cartoon movie were mixed and sales have not been too convincing either, at least not as successful as Tarzan’s predecessors Beauty And The Beast, The Lion King and Aida. The two thing most often criticized were the weak script and Phil Collins’ mediocre compositions that were often termed “not fit for the musical stage”. The cast album now offers an opportunity to make up one’s mind about Collins’ first stagework.

The new songs are not too impressive upon first hearing, while songs that are already known from the movie (Two Worlds and You’ll Be In My Heart) enjoy a hit bonus and please the listener with new arrangements and well-done interpretations. However, one should not give up after the first attempt but listen to the CD several times. Then it turns out that there are a couple of fine new songs to discover.

Tarzan and Jane’s duet For The First Time for example is very enjoyable, even though lyrics like “She’s turned my whole world upside down” are not even remotely creative. Tarzan’s solo number Everything That I Am is another good song. A Collins version of that song was included as the bonus track. Compositions like No Other Way and Sure As Sun Turns To Moon seem only second-rate; they do not challenge the extraordinary vocal abilities of Shuler Hensley as Kerchak and Merle Dandridge as Kala at all. Their structure is way too simple. The final song of Act I does not create any tension at all, there is no cliffhanger before the interval, the song just rambles on. It’s rather counterproductive for a show to send the audience into the interval with an uninspiring song.

The part of Tarzan is sung by Josh Strickland who became known through TV appearances in American Idol and Star Search. He sings his part without a problem, though his voice occasionally resembles that of a Afro-American gospel lady. Jenn Gambatese sings the part of Jane with lots of Belt and a corresponding British accent. The rest of the cast are in good shape, too, and they do the best they can with the material they’ve been given.

The musical version of Tarzan is pleasant and entertaining; most of all, it is simple pop music which is fine and alright. One should not forget, however, that a song in a musical has a job to fulfill: It has to propel the action forward and it should have its own mini-drama structure. Unless these requirements are met one cannot help but feel that the compositions are inadequate for a musical.

Maik FrömmrichMaik Frömmrich has been working as an editor with the big German web site His main focus is on Broadway productions. Maik is a vocalist in musicals and chansons; he has his own homepage.

translated by Martin Klinkhardt