Youth Theater Project and Children’s Theater Project recently performed their 2013-2014 winter production of the Disney musical, Tarzan, and your Rockford Theater Examiner was there to see it.
The show began with ambient sound effects to suggest the jungle- actually a pretty nice preshow to get the audience in the mood. The multilevel, stylized jungle set was quite well done, a definite highlight of the performance. Kudos to Emily Blaha on her design. In fact, all the design aspects of the show are well done. Annette DeYoung’s costume work is good, and the outfits and makeup for the gorillas in particular do a nice job of representing their intended animal (especially when combined with the body language and movement of those playing the apes). Sean Lilly uses the Sullivan Theater’s lighting system to its utmost, with plenty of special effects that accentuated and punctuated the setting and goings-on of the show. The lighting effects for the shipwreck scene at the top of the performance perhaps went a little overboard (no pun intended) and obscured the action, but otherwise quite well done. Morgan Clott handles choreography duties well, and although the fights were just a tad too stylized for this Examiner’s tastes, she does a nice job with the show as a whole. As a director, Andrew Harth deserves praise for working with so many children if nothing else, but his direction is good as well. About the only gripe in that department is that the actors could have had more to do during some of the songs, rather than just singing in place for the duration of their numbers, and numerous actors had trouble finding their light as well.
The performers themselves are about what you’d expect for this age group, in that there were a variety of skill levels. There were some standouts among the leads: As the eponymous ape man, Alley DeYoung has vocal capability in spades (making good use of her range) and stage presence in the role, even despite her lack of Y chromosome. Xochitl Flores has ample talent to both act and sing as Tarzan’s ape mother. Marissa Minnick as Jane is a capable singer, and has a particularly nice duet with Faith Hood as her onstage father (another talented vocalist).
Overall, this show is done well. The script isn’t the strongest, but the excellent production values and some very talented young performers make this an entertaining show to see all the same, and it does exceed the level of standard high school theatre fare in multiple ways. All things considered, a job well done!
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