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'Tarzan, the Musical,' Flies onto the Morgan Theatre Stage

Thursday, Mar. 20, 2014

graphic illustration for USU theater production of
The Theatre Arts Department at Utah State University wraps up the mainstage season with "Tarzan, the Musical," March 25-29 at the Morgan Theatre in the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU's Logan campus.

Tarzan, the Musical, presented by Utah State University’s Department of Theatre Arts in the Caine College of the Arts, opens Tuesday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. on the Chase Fine Arts Center’s Morgan Theatre stage.


The musical runs nightly at 7:30 p.m. through March 29 with an additional 2 p.m. matinee March 29.


Based on the popular Disney animated film and the book Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan, the Musical is the story of a young man raised by apes from infancy who comes to understand what it means to be a man. As in Burrough’s book, the character in the musical adaptation is driven by his own curiosity about who he is and where he belongs.


“The production focuses on the way we define family,” said Kenneth Risch, theatre department head in the Caine College of the Arts and the show’s director. “It asks if family is based on who gave you birth, or who loves and nurtures you.”


Risch hopes audience members will walk away from the performance with their own answers to this question.


“When Tarzan is finally confronted with humanity, he is quickly exposed to both positive and negative behavior and bases his final decisions on his need and desire to hold onto the best of both worlds,” said Risch.


Spencer Potter, the costume designer for the production, had previously worked with CCA alum Nancy Hamblin at Tuacahn Ampitheatre and Center for the Arts. Tuacahn’s production of “Tarzan” was designed by Hamblin.


“Many of the gorilla and plant costumes used in our production were rented from Tuacahn,” said Risch. “This is privilege to incorporate Hamblin’s work into our own production.”


Kurtis Morgan, 10, who plays Tarzan as a child, says he’s having the time of his life acting the role.


“The cast members have all been so nice to me and I’m really glad I got this part,” said Morgan. “I had fun flying across the stage with the older Tarzan in our rehearsals.”


Michael Francis, who plays the older Tarzan, is also enjoying every second of it, although it is one of the most physically, emotionally and musically demanding roles he has ever prepared for. Francis said this experience is the theater equivalent of a CrossFit routine.


“It has been an adventure to try to find the wild man inside,” said Francis.


In December, Francis, Risch and several other cast members traveled to Las Vegas, Nev., to train on the Foy Fly System, a system providing flying effects, Aereography and state-of-the-arts automation for Broadway shows like Peter Pan, professional theaters and opera companies worldwide.


“Most of the magic we see when an actor flies across the stage is the result of two operators who are hoisting them around,” said Francis. “We learned in Las Vegas that once you’re up, the best you can do is look like you’re in control, because in reality you are merely dangling from a string while the operators pull you around.”


Sarah Boucher, a USU student majoring in music plays the role of Jane. Boucher said the music was what first attracted her to the show. The music, composed by Phil Collins, is some of the most electric and energetic pieces she has had the opportunity to perform.


“Jane is very eccentric, and her transformation from a proper Victorian woman to Jane of the Jungle is such a joy to portray,” said Boucher. “She comes alive as she discovers the jungle and builds her relationship with Tarzan, becoming truer to herself in the process.”


Boucher has loved the full experience of acting in Tarzan, the Musical and calls the cast, crew and design teams phenomenal.


“This will be an absolute spectacle — a marvelous production like nothing our valley has ever seen,” said Francis. “We are all eager to share the two worlds of Tarzan with anyone and everyone who would like to be a part of them.”


Tickets for Tarzan, the Musical are $18 adults, $15 seniors and youth, $10 USU faculty and staff and $5 for USU students with ID. For more information or tickets, contact the CCA Box Office in room 139-B of the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU’s campus, call 435-797-8022, or see the college’s Production Services website.


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Writer: Whitney Schulte, 435-797-9203, whitney.schulte@usu.edu

Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500, denise.albiston@usu.edu

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