Disney's Tarzan Swings From Screen To Stage
The Walt Disney Co.'s stage adaptation of its animated Tarzan movie has opened to mixed notices on Broadway. Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press describes the production as "emotionally and musically lightweight -- almost as skimpy as Tarzan's leather loincloth." Josh Strickland, in the title role, "is bland, boyish and bulk-free -- the Ape Man by way of Abercrombie & Fitch," Kuchwara adds. "Almost everybody and everything swings in Tarzan. Which is odd, since the show itself, to borrow from Duke Ellington's famous credo, definitely ain't got that swing," writes Ben Brantley in the New York Times. Brantley further notes that in the DVD extras that come with the animated film version, several members of the creative team commented that it required animation to capture the "animal artistry" that creator Edgar Rice Burroughs originally imagined in writing. "Which goes to prove, employees of Disney, that you should be very careful what you say when a camera is running," Brantley adds. Likewise, Clive Barnes observes in the New York Post: "The show was wrecked from the onset by its concept. Perhaps the Disney people will realize that not every one of their cartoons contains the kernel of a great Broadway show." Several critics do applaud the set designs and lighting by director Bob Crowley. But not Howard Kissel in the New York Daily News, who writes: "Musicals have become increasingly amusement park rides, focusing on scenic thrills rather than solid storytelling. Tarzan wouldn't make the grade as a ride at Disney World. On Broadway, it seems merely a tourist trap." On the other hand, Elysa Gardner in USA Today praises the show's "uncynical warmth and charm" and adds: "From Bob Crowley's lush, fanciful scenic and costume design to its intricate uses of animation and projected images, Tarzan offers plenty of the flash considered catnip for tourists and casual fans."