Acts of Kindness Theatre Company Returns July 25-27; August 1- 3
Special effects, acrobatics and even flying stunts, are being perfected in the days leading up to performances of Tarzan® the Stage Musical, the featured 2014 summer production by Acts of Kindness (AOK) Theatre Company, presenting regional talent ranging in age from 6-60+ and benefitting the non-profit Adams County Arts Council.
Performances are slated for Hanover’s Eichelberger Performing Arts Center on July 25, 26 and 27; and August 1, 2, and 3. AOK Director Rene Staub says Tarzan, the company’s banner 10th anniversary show, is sure to dazzle audiences with its innovative choreography.
“Acrobatics and dancing are central to the story of Tarzan,” Staub explains. “It’s a primal body language that’s very organic. The cast’s movements are very believable—(choreographer) Dawn Glass has done a great job with that.”
Glass, Artistic Director at Gettysburg’s Vibe Performing Arts Studio, says a total of 15 cast members will be “flying” during the performances.
“We are working with one of the biggest flying companies in the U.S. to install the rigging and train us. They ‘fly’ people in LA, in movies, and they tell us that what we’re doing in Tarzan right here in Hanover is typically done in the Broadway show,” according to Glass.
“Different apparatus will help the actors fly, flip and jump out of trees,” she explains. “Some are cables installed straight down from the ceiling, while some are like bungees with someone in the wings doing the controlling. There will also be three pendulums with movement like grandfather clock pendulums, so that Tarzan and the dancers can swing from vine to vine. Everything is completely customized to each of our actors’ and dancers’ height and weight.”
Simple movements on stage are actually anything but simple—the cast has spent weeks researching and practicing the movement of apes. “We have studied everything from Zoo Life videos to Planet of the Apes and YouTube videos,” Glass says. “It’s been amazing to watch the cast transform—their movements look so natural now. Audiences are going to forget there are actually humans inside the costumes.”
This 10th anniversary show is also musically challenging. “The orchestra features 12 local musicians,” according to musical director Brian Buterbaugh. “However, the complex African beats require us to have five drummers, instead of two as we normally have.”
“Musical highlights certainly include Phil Collins’ Grammy Award-winning song ‘You’ll Be in My Heart’ which everyone will recognize and is beautifully orchestrated,” says Buterbaugh. “There are several big chorus numbers with everyone on stage, spectacles for both the eyes and ears.”
Based upon Edgar Rice Burrough’s book Tarzan of the Apes and the 1999 smash-hit Disney animated film, Tarzan tells the story of an infant boy orphaned on the shores of West Africa. Taken in and raised by a tribe of gorillas, the young boy strives for acceptance by his ape father while grappling with his uniqueness. When a human expedition enters their territory, Tarzan—now a man—encounters strangers like himself for the first time.
Heading up the 40-plus-member cast is York’s 19-year old Dakota Haines as Tarzan and Hanover’s 19-year old Zoe Wildasin as Jane. Haines, a graduate of Dallastown Area High School, is currently a student at Penn State University; Wildasin is a graduate of Spring Grove Area High School who attends Chicago’s DePaul University.
Tarzan proceeds benefit Addy’s Team (Cystic Fibrosis), as well as the non-profit Adams County Arts Council, whose mission is to cultivate an arts-rich community. Executive Director Chris Glatfelter says proceeds from AOK’s summer shows are some of the largest contributions the arts council receives annually.
Contact the Eichelberger Box Office, 195 Stock Street, Hanover, Monday-Friday, 10 am-2 pm, or online anytime at www.theeich.org, or by calling the box office at 717-637-7086. Advance tickets are $12 for students/children and $16 for adults. Premium seating is also available for $19. On performance days, ticket prices are $2 more. A group rate of $12 per ticket applies to groups of 15 or more attending the same performance.