In 1999 the Disney film, Tarzan, was first released and would later become a hit on Broadway. The musical Tarzan was originally a book written by Edgar Rice Burroughs and was eventually adapted as a Disney animated movie, with the soundtrack written by Phil Collins. The Disney film, because of its loving story line and beautiful songs, touched many people’s hearts before it premiered on Broadway.
The plot of the musical Tarzan starts out on the shores of South Africa where a lost baby boy finds refuge in an unlikely place. The boy’s parents become the victims of a vicious leopard, and the boy, now an orphan, is left all alone in the jungle with little chance of survival. A group of friendly gorillas take in the baby boy because they had just lost a newborn to the same leopard. The gorillas name him Tarzan, and though he grows up comfortably with the gorillas, he knows deep inside that he doesn’t fit in. When Tarzan is a little bit older, a journalist and her father travel to the South African jungles to do research—and these are the first humans Tarzan ever meets. The journalist Jane causes Tarzan to realize that, although Tarzan appears uncivilized and acts as if one among the gorillas, he really is a human. During the musical, both Jane and Tarzan try to figure out where they belong. During the musical Jane realizes that there is so much more to the world than just London and she explores the jungles with Tarzan as her guide.
The silver-back gorilla tribe leader, Kerchack, is constantly worried that Tarzan will be a threat to the safety of their already endangered tribe. Kerchack knows how evil humans can be and often mistrusts Tarzan because he is a different breed. At one point in the musical Tarzan innocently makes a spear to protect himself, causing Kerchack to almost abandon Tarzan. Despite his struggles of keeping up with the demands of being part of the tribe and enduring the bullying of other gorillas, Tarzan finds friends in a fellow misfit gorilla, Terk, and the journalist Jane. Tarzan befriends Jane as she teaches him English and the human way of life. Now knowing both lifestyles, Tarzan is faced with choosing between two different realities: the gorilla lifestyle he grew up with, or the more sophisticated human way that he has learned from Jane. At the end of the musical Jane offers to take Tarzan back to London so they can be together for forever, but Tarzan doesn’t want to lose his freedom and live in the bustle of a city. While the decision is difficult for Jane and her father, everything ends happily ever after.
“Tarzan (Musical) Plot & Characters.” StageAgent, https://stageagent.com/shows/musical/1834/tarzan.