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Tarzan Musical On Broadway

The Musical from a Phil Collins fan's point of view

When I was in New York City recently, of course I couldn't refrain from going to see the Tarzan Broadway Show. So I bought myself a ticket for the afternoon show on 7th June.
The Richard Rodgers theatre is really nice, located in 46th st. west of central Times Square. I had a perfect seat (6th row center orchestra). You have a quite intimate impression because from the orchestra you can only see the bottom of the mezzanine. So you have no idea how many people are attending altogether. The view seems to be very good from any orchestra seat though I wouldn't necessarily recommend the last let's say 6 or 7 rows (in those rows the mezzanine might restrict the view especially during the aerial scenes). No idea how the view is in the mezzanine though I heard it's quite good as well.

The afternoon show was pretty much sold out and full of kids. I guess that at least 1/3 of the audience were younger than 12. But I was impressed how quiet it was during the show keeping in mind that Americans sometimes tend to be a bit loud as an audience.

The story already starts while people are taking their seats. On the curtain (which is a kind of 3D-curtain) a map of Africa is shown with a tiny ship on the Atlantic that moves closer to the continent as showtime approaches. They also display some captain's log entries.

On time at 2 pm the show started. And it starts very powerful from the first moment on - the sinking ship. There's a loud thunderstorm with strobes flashing and right afterwards the did a very short but excellent underwater scene with the Greystokes (Tarzan-to-be's parents). They manage to swim to the coast and the next thing you see is an aerial view of a beach. The actors are hanging down from the ceiling tied to some ropes so you get the impression that you're looking on the beach from above. The Greystoke family then makes it into the jungle where Tarzan-to-be's parents are soon being killed by the leopard. The leopard who appears several times during the show until he's finally being killed by Tarzan is virtually like a phantom. The only thing you see of him is a leopard-shaped shadow and his red eyes. He's always moving almost faster than the eye can see.

I won't go on describing every scene (a bit too much and maybe boring) but I will sum up the highlights in the following. The rest of the story seems to be very much like the movie though I have to admit I haven't seen it for a while. So it's hard for me to compare the story details.

The music (which most likely is the most interesting part of the show for a Phil Collins fan like me) is great and fits perfectly into the story. Only a few of the songs are really done in a way we're used to hearing them on the movie soundtrack. Most are done quite differently or split up by some dialogue in the middle.

Songs I really liked are For The First Time (a brilliant duet of Tarzan & Jane), Who Better Than Me (up-tempo and powerful, sung by Terk) and Everything That I Am (sung by Tarzan himself after he finds out that he really has human parents). I was really curious how especially the old songs (which we all know sung by Phil) would sound now that they're being performed by actors. But in my opinion, the actors did an outstanding job! The new songs were not performed by Phil so far at least in public apart from Everything That I Am. So there was no need to get used to different voices.

The musical is split into two acts. The first of which ends after Tarzan and Jane met for the first time and the second one begins with Trashing The Camp. Considering the problems to convert such a comic movie scene (in which pretty much everything is possible) into a musical scene with actors of flesh and blood, this is another remarkable part of the show. A lot of ape action!

In my opinion the musical has a great balance of silent/romantic and action scenes. Especially the aerial action is done very well and adds something special to the show. By the way, after seen the musical now I have no idea why Phil's kids fell asleep after the first scenes when they recently saw it. I think it was rather the jetlag than the show itself.

From my point of view all the characters fit perfectly and actors play their roles very convincingly! Jane e.g. plays a bit of a comedy part sometimes especially in her first scene and when she just had fallen in love with Tarzan. All the apes are done well regarding that they're all played by human beings.

What I liked very much was the lighting. The stage itself doesn't change that much during the show but they manage to create a large variety of different atmospheres with the light.

Ticket prizes are quite high and of course you'll have to travel to New York in case you're not in the city by chance. Good to know then, that most of the European people won't have to wait too long to see it. The show will most likely be produce in Scheveningen, The Netherlands from early 2007 and in Germany from 2008.

Well, I could tell way more about it but I will stop here for now. All in all I have to say that the show was overwhelming and I was deeply impressed by what I saw. Very emotional with a lot of action and not to forget: great music! I haven't seen any musical before and don't go the theatres or the opera very often so maybe I'm not the best one to judge. But it was excellent! Don't know what made the critics rip the show into pieces. I don't care. The audience liked it judging from the applause and the happy faces afterwards - and that's all that counts.

Ulrich Klemt has seen many Phil Collins shows around the world during his First Final Farewell Tour. He has contributed to this site with lot's of pictures (see our Photogallery) and many reports from Phil's Farewell tour. Translation by Martin Klinkhardt

Read more:

| Cast-CD review by Christian Gerhardts
| Tarzan Cast CD guest review