Me Tarzan, You Jane | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Me Tarzan, You Jane 

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Me Tarzan, You Jane, Emerald City Theatre Company, at the Apollo Theater. This appealing musical will amuse youngsters and oldsters alike with its simultaneously smart and silly riffs on the classic Tarzan movies. Packed with goofy sight gags and pratfalls as well as clever one-liners and sly allusions, it gently lampoons the films' familiar formula, as Tarzan, Jane, and their animal pals Cheetah the chimp and Bob the rhino match brains and brawn against villainous poachers Lord and Lady Whimper. Educational as well as entertaining, their adventures offer lessons about the value of trust, friendship, loyalty, and courage--not to mention verbs, pronouns, and opposable thumbs.

Alyn Cardarelli's book and lyrics and Steve Goers's songs are delivered with playful urgency by a fine young cast under the direction of Matthew Gunnels (who also does the voice-over narration). Dave Dublis is the "brave, half-naked ape man" (rhymes with "stays-in-shape man"), Robyn Senchak is his perky mate, John LaGuardia and Miranda Herbert are the wicked Whimpers, Phillip Dawkins is Bob, and Maria McCullough is Cheetah, who's tired of playing second banana ("I'm not meeting my potential--I want to evolve"). Equally important on the afternoon I attended was the audience--mostly first-graders and their families. Their participation (shrewdly coaxed and controlled by the actors) included offering advice on how to be brave and imitating Tarzan's famous yell en masse. If only most grown-up theater was this much fun.

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