Tarzan Swings ODU Student into the Spotlight
The story of Tarzan, first a book in 1912, a children’s movie in 1999 and a Broadway play in 2006, has become a classic family story that spans generations. Now, the Norfolk based theater company, Hurrah Players, with the help of ODU sophomore Zack Jenkins, is bringing the play to Norfolk.
The March 15 through 17 showing at the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center will be the regional premiere of the play. “[The Hurrah Players] are Virginia’s leading theater company and we work closely with Disney. We are only the third theatre company in the nation to get the rights to the show,” said Hugh Copeland, director of the play and founder of the Hurrah Platers and part of ODU’s communications department.
It presents a great opportunity for everyone involved, its score was written by Phil Collins and nominated for a Tony. The company will be performing such well-known songs as “You’ll Be in My Heart” and “Two Worlds.”
Many can relate to the story of Tarzan. The plot takes the audience on a journey with a lost boy, trying to make a place for himself in a foreign world. “It asks us what makes a family,” said Copeland.
Jenkins scored the lead role and is playing Tarzan. He is a 19-year-old music production student with a concentration in vocal performance. It will be his first leading role in a play and his third musical theater performance. “When Hugh said Tarzan would be the upcoming show, I got really excited but never thought I would be Tarzan,” said Jenkins. “I only got it because of my hair,” Jenkins jokes, although his long blonde hair gives him the perfect man-raised-by-gorillas look.
Jenkins first got interested in musical theater through his love of singing. “My voice is my strongest area,” he said. Jenkins also works closely with his ODU vocal coach to make sure he is prepared for the performance. “She has been willing to go out of her way to make sure I am getting everything down that I need to,” said Jenkins
Jenkins gets a lot of support from the Hurrah Players as well. “We are like a big family, it is a unique experience,” he said. The group has been rehearsing since January, making sure that everything lives up to the Disney standard. There are about 140 people involved altogether from the actors, to the set designers and the costume makers, making it their largest production in five years. The company is well prepared, having performed other Disney hits like “Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and “Footloose.”
The musical comedy and drama will feature singing, jumping and well-choreographed fighting by Hurrah’s Lisa Wallace. The company is leaving no tree branch unswung, considering they even convinced the Roper theatre to install a rope from the scaffolding so that Tarzan can make his required leaps onto stage.
“The play has everything” says Copeland, “just within the first five minutes of the play, we have a baby gorilla killed, an English mother and father killed, and a young baby Tarzan is deserted.”
By: Allison Terres