Tarzan the Musical Tarzan the Musical got panned on Broadway, but some European productions have been huge successes. A tribe of gorillas adopts the orphaned Tarzan, the female Kala eagerly and the male Kerchak reluctantly. Young Tarzan is befriended by a gorilla pal, Terk, and the scenes before the mature Tarzan enters have an elegiac, pastoral quality and a charming sweetness. Daniel Ewetuya plays Kerchak, and is amazingly good in a commanding, standout performance. Von Deylen as Kala finds the maternal love, an independent spirit and quiet charm. Young Tarzan is played by Andrew Sackett with the eagerness of youth and substantial gymnastic skill on jungle vines. The mature Tarzan is played by Kiefer Slaton; his chief acting assignment is to look good in a loincloth. Slaton does this with a warm, welcoming smile and sculpted abs. Civilization intrudes on this edenic setting with the arrival of an expedition — Jane Porter is accompanied by her father and Clayton, who is attracted to her. Director Nathan C. Hand, who was quite good in maneuvering the gorillas through their paces, stumbles badly here, possibly because he plays Clayton and so can't see the shambles occurring onstage as he and Haley Landers as Jane fail to project their voices. The scenic design by Ed and Robyn LeGris captures the feeling of a jungle glade. The fine musical direction is by Heather Tipsword, who doubles at keyboard, but the amplified sound too often drowns out the singing voices. A highlight is the exciting, humorous "Trashin' the Camp," where the gorilla ensemble goes to town on the suitcases of the expedition. An ambitious project is largely successful, though some amateurish acting in Act Two is unfortunate. Through September 8. From the Pearland Theatre Guild at Pearl Theatre, 14803 Park Almeda Dr., 713-340-2540. — JJT

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