'Tarzan' swings and triumphs on stage
MANILA, Philippines - It only takes an "oyoyoyooooo!" to ring across the stage for me to know I'm definitely watching "Tarzan."
Few sounds have ever been so strongly associated with an image, in this case, that of a long-haired man in a loincloth swinging from a vine.
That image has become a symbol of the entwined fates of mankind and Mother Nature, embodied by the story of one man, left in the jungle by his doomed shipwrecked parents. He is taken in by a female ape named Kala and raised to manhood in the ways of the apes.
But Tarzan knows he is different and continually tries to prove his loyalty to the tribe to his adopted father, Kerchak, chief of the apes.
Viva Atlantis' "Tarzan," based on the beloved Disney animation with music and lyrics by Phil Collins, succeeds in bringing out the gems of the story through marvelously portrayed characters.
The two leads, Broadway star Dan Domenech (of "Glee" and "Rock of Ages" fame) as Tarzan and pop star Rachelle Ann Go as Jane, deliver heartfelt performances. His Broadway experience has surely helped the tall and tan Domenech to warm up to his part (including swinging around half-naked in front of hundreds of people). His Tarzan is someone you will really root for and trust unconditionally.
There's a special vibe among the audience whenever Rachelle Ann Go sings. Her voice suspends everything in a sweet reality where nothing but the song exists. But her lines leave much to be desired. I think her determination to maintain Jane's British accent made it harder for the audience to understand what she was saying.
But Domenech and Go sizzle onstage. Their chemistry sparks and so does their vocal harmony.
Much of the musical's emotional power comes from Kala, played by the ever-ebullient Ima Castro. Her vocal and acting powers depict the turmoil of a mother caught between two worlds, that of her son and her husband's. Hers is a voice of unconditional love that imbues the musical with depth and hope.
Castro's Kala is complemented by Calvin Millado's Kerchak, the fearless, stoic and unmovable leader of the apes. Kerchak's is a voice of authority that weakens tenderly when he's caressed by Kala.
But my favorite character, who sadly did not have as many solos, is Terk, played with vitality by Jeffrey Hidalgo. Tarzan's jesting best mate (or best ape) of Tarzan leaps and lands on everything and can always be counted upon to lighten up a scene.
With all these formidable talents on one stage, fans of the Disney film won't be disappointed by their performances of the Oscar-winning classic "You'll Be In My Heart" and the rousing hit, "Two Worlds."
"Tarzan" is intended as a visually-mesmerizing musical set in the South African jungles. Viva Atlantis' production does justice to this concept with its set, a green, back-lit arch with undulating shapes to evoke sunlight-infused treetops and stars and a pearly moon against the black fabric of night.
Creatively envisioned costumes evoke birds of paradise, exotic insects and a red-eyed, flying panther. The apes' costumes are given a novel twist: more shaggy than furry and wearing woven ethnic loincloths (very similar to the bahag)–perhaps an effort to make audiences see the "human" in the beasts.
I highly recommend this musical to anyone looking for great performances and who want to relive the Disney classic on a whole new level. It's the perfect date for the family and it will teach kids and anyone who needs reminding that acceptance of differences is the best gift we can give to our fellowman. - Rappler.com
Viva Atlantis''Tarzan' runs until June 29 at the Meralco Theater. For tickets, call Viva Atlantis at 687-5853 local 661 or 673, 892-7078 or 840-1149. You can also call Ticketworld at 891-9999.