Book by David Henry Hwang, based on Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Disney Film. Music and lyrics by Phil Collins. The original Broadway production will open on 10 May 2006 and was directed by Bob Crowley, with choreography by Meryl Tankard, running for 486 performances.

Synopsis and Musical Numbers

Barely surviving a shipwreck off the West African coast, a young English couple constructs a treehouse to protect their newborn child. Nearby, among a tribe of gorillas, the silverback bull-ape, Kerchak, guards his mate, Kala, and their infant son (TWO WORLDS). The peace is shattered when a leopard runs off with the tiny ape then descends from the treetops to kill human parents. Mourning her lost son, Kala hears a lonely cry from above and rescues the human baby from the leopard. Kala names the hairless creature Tarzan and is determined to give him a home, despite Kerchak’s refusal to accept the orphan as his son. (YOU’LL BE IN MY HEART).

Kala lavishes love and encouragement on Tarzan, but the awkward ape-boy cannot keep up with the tribe. Kerchak sees Tarzan as a threat, but the lighthearted Terk befriends the boy (WHO BETTER THAN ME?). When Kerchak discovers that Tarzan has innocently fashioned a spear, he exiles the boy from the others (NO OTHER WAY). Knowing her son won’t survive alone, Kala heads off to find him, despairing by the water’s edge (I NEED TO KNOW). Kala assures the boy that, though he looks different, under the the skin they are just the same.

Years pass. Tarzan grows athletic and resourceful (SON OF MAN). Kala tries to convince Kerchak to accept the adult Tarzan, but the bull-ape is resolute (SURE AS SUN TURNS TO MOON) — until Tarzan snares and kills the leopard that has terrorised the tribe for so long. When gunshots blast through the jungle, the apes run off, but Tarzan investigates. Elsewhere, naturalist, Jane Porter, is overwhelmed by the thrillingly diverse jungle life (WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT). Just as a giant spider bears down on her, Tarzan swings in to save this foreign yet strangely familiar creature and the pair of strangers carefully assesses one another as the curtain falls on the first act (DIFFERENT).

Terk and the apes “redecorate” the Porter expedition site (TRASHIN’ THE CAMP). Returning to camp with Tarzan, Jane is stunned by the presence of the gorillas until Kerchak arrives, dispersing them. Jane tries to convince her eccentric father, Professor Porter, and their mercenary guide, Mr. Clayton, that she has discovered a wild man and a tribe of apes. Kerchak forbids contact with the humans but Tarzan is irresistibly drawn to Jane again and again. Porter notices Jane’s transformation from bookish girl to a woman in love (LIKE NO MAN I’VE EVER SEEN), a change that stokes Clayton’s jealousy as Jane teaches Tarzan more and more about humans (STRANGERS LIKE ME).

As she grasps that the apes are indeed Tarzan’s family, Jane’s affection for this gentle “wild man” grows (FOR THE FIRST TIME). Jane begs Porter to scrap plans to capture gorillas — but Clayton, itching to bag some apes, tricks Tarzan into leading the humans to the nesting grounds. Terk agrees to help Tarzan by keeping Kerchak away (WHO BETTER THAN ME? – REPRISE). But Kerchak appears, scattering the humans and demanding that Tarzan decide who he is. Kala leads Tarzan to the treehouse, and the belongings of his human parents (EVERYTHING THAT I AM).

Resolved to go to England as a man, Tarzan consoles Kala (YOU’LL BE IN MY HEART – REPRISE), but after Clayton kills Kerchak, the leaderless tribe needs him. There is no other way (SURE AS SUN TURNS TO MOON – REPRISE). Jane, then, must grapple with a timeless question: What makes a family? For her and Tarzan, the answer is obvious (TWO WORLDS – REPRISE).

Mini Gallery

Tarzan Tarzan Tarzan Tarzan


FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. Tarzan 1999 Film Soundtrack CD. 2. Tarzan 2006 Original Broadway Cast Recording CD. 3. Tarzan 1999 Animated Film on DVD. 4. Tarzan II DTV Animated Film on DVD. 5. Tarzan and Jane DTV Animated Compilation from Tarzan TV series on DVD.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. 1. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. 2. Tarzan Chronicles – a making of Tarzan book. 3. Disney’s Adventure Stories book (includes Tarzan). 4. Tarzan Vocal Selections from Broadway Show. 5. Tarzan Vocal Selections from Film.


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