On Friday Feb. 27, Assumption College School debuted this year’s production, a stage musical adaptation of Tarzan, based on both the Disney film of the same name and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story, Tarzan of the Apes.
With pre-production beginning in June 2014 and the auditions and production process starting in October, it’s evident that despite only having about four months for the cast and crew to prepare, a lot of time and effort was put into making Tarzan a special performance.
The director and teacher at the school, Alicia Belina, explained, “We rehearsed three nights a week. On Mondays and Thursdays, we did stage work. We would do blocking and we would do choreography, and things like that. And then on Tuesdays, we did vocal rehearsals for a couple of hours each night.”
The last week of rehearsals before the show, aptly titled “Hell Week”, was an even more intense production, pushing the students to do their best, despite the exhausting hours. Belina commented, “It’s been long. Every night, Monday to Thursday from 3 to 9 o’clock.” With school hours officially beginning at 8:45a.m., you can just imagine how tiring this week has been for the cast and crew, yet they pushed through and put on a great show.
The cast, led by Kyriakos Kyprianou as Tarzan and Michelle Zyma as Jane, demonstrated just how talented the students as Assumption College are, as well as students from St. Gabriel’s Elementary School, who volunteered to take part in the play.
The cast is rounded out by great acting and vocal performances from Bailie Wade (Kala), Ainsley Headley (Kerchak), Ines Kowal (Terk), Bianca Pace (Young Tarzan) Krysia Glowala (Young Terk) and Van Thompson (Professor Porter), as well as Alex Margavio (Clayton) who does not sing.
The entire cast showed phenomenal dedication to their characters and craft, especially those in the ensemble who spent much of the play walking on stage like gorillas. For the ensemble, it was the choreography from Ally Penders that gave them the chance to actually stand up, and when they did, the difficulty and skill of their choreography was on full display.
This article could not be complete without giving much deserved credit to the stage crew. Headed by stage manager Nick Pettigrew, musical director Arjun Fernando, and technical director Dave Allen, everything from the set to the costumes to the music was beautiful, pulling the audience into a jungle experience.
The hair and make-up demonstrated considerable skill in transforming each actor into their characters, unrecognizable to their own selves, but still unique enough to differentiate the characters, most notably through different coloured wigs.
For the world of drama in education, Tarzan and other high school productions aren’t just to show how talented students are. There is a more important issue to discuss when talking about high school productions, and that is the importance of drama and art in schools.
When asked about his past in drama and his experience working on Tarzan, Kyprianou said, “This was the first thing that I’ve ever done. I was very surprised. I think it really boosted my confidence. I really liked it. It was really fun and I’m looking forward to the next thing that I’m going to be in that has to do with drama.”
By supporting the artistic efforts of students, people can help generate an understanding of why art in school is a necessity. It’s going to see productions like Tarzan, or viewing a school’s art gallery, or attending their band recitals. Supporting the educational arts helps students find what they enjoy in life, and it helps keep artistic culture alive.
You can catch Tarzan at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 6, as well as shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 7.