SMITHFIELD – The unfortunate problem with the ongoing production of Tarzan by the Four Seasons Theatre Company here is that the first act of the Disney musical is just boring.

No criticism is intended of director Kody Rash or his cast and crews, who were desperately trying to breathe some life in the first hour or so of this show. But the sad truth is that the prolonged exposition of the title character’s backstory that worked in the 1999 animated version of this classic tale by Edgar Rice Burroughs just didn’t translate well to the stage version.

I blame the people behind the Disney money-making machine who, after much stage success with adaptations of their animated feature films, didn’t have the sense to quit before they tried to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.

Once the second act begins, however, the musical’s pace picks up and its cast springs to vivid life. Then, Tarzan is well-worth seeing.

In the title role, Thomas Belliston returns to the Four Seasons stage after a seven-year absence and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part of Tarzan. He’s built like a rock, displays considerable acrobatic ability while swinging on vines across the stage and has exactly the kind of resonant voice you’d expect to come out of his barrel chest.

As Tarzan’s inevitable mate Jane, newcomer Brighton Walker lights up the stage with a delightfully naïve performance as an “oh so proper Englishwoman.” Her second act duets with Belliston — “Strangers Like Me” and “For the First Time” — were real show-stoppers.

Cameron Gleed appeared as Tarzan’s ape friend Terk. Gleed was last seen doing a comic turn as funny sidekick Cosmo Brown in the Music Theatre West production of Singin’ in the Rain and adds just the right note of comedy relief here as well.

Other cast stand-outs were Four Seasons veterans Kaden Bundy as Kerchak and Lauren Kian as Kala, the adoptive parents of Tarzan; Nathan Jones as Jane’s father; and Joe Wall as the villainous hunter Clayton.

The show’s singing and dancing ensembles spent opening night on June 20 either dressed as flowers – during the “Waiting for this Moment” production number – or as members of the ape family that reluctantly adopts Tarzan.

Those latter roles involved being dressed from head-to-toe in primate costumes that were cleverly designed by the director, Kim Rash and Mary Savage.

They included Amber Freestone, Amber Larsen, Andrew Withers, Christian Hoisington, Isaiah Dunham, Jonathon Olson, Kayli Archibald, Kim Rash, Logan Kelly, Luc Faucette, Madalyn Smith, Natalie Osborne and Dillan Wright.

Kudos also for a jungle-like set design by Lineset Design and Fabrication, who did their usual creative magic.

Finally, Tarzan wouldn’t be Tarzan if he couldn’t swing through the trees, courtesy of the backstage flight crew composed of Bennett Floyd, Dakota DeWaal, Daniel Francis, EJ Stevens and Jared Bohman. They made the complex flying process look easy.

Tarzan will continue to be performed through June 29 at Sky View High School in Smithfield.

Sky View High School is located at 520 South, 250 East in Smithfield.



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