[Review] “Tarzan” The Broadway Musical (2006)

Phil Collins crosses “scoring a Broadway musical” off his bucket list.

Kronomyth 12.0: The lion lies down on broadway.

Phil Collins followed in the footsteps of Elton John that led to Broadway for the stage adaptation of Tarzan. In addition to the four popular holdovers from the film (“You’ll Be In My Heart,” “Son of Man,” “Two Worlds,” “Strangers Like Me”), Phil wrote nine new songs for the musical and thought enough of one (“Everything That I Am”) to record it himself. I happened to see the musical on Broadway and thought it was very well done, although darker and more intense than the animated film.

Despite not having written for the stage before, Collins does a good job of writing material that combines action and interaction: “Who Better Than Me,” “Sure As Sun Turns To Moon,” “Everything That I Am.” Some of the score is forgettable, sure, but this is a Broadway musical we’re talking about, and most of those are yawnfests. While the songs have an unmistakable Phil Collins stamp (ballads, Motown and drums figure prominently), the man clearly tried to step out of his comfort zone and write material that would entertain and advance the plot at the same time.

The original cast members all have strong singing voices; Jenn Gambatese (Jane Porter) in particular is interesting for the vocal similarities she has to Annie Haslam (listen to “Waiting For This Moment”), which had me thinking how awesome a Phil Collins/Annie Haslam duet would be. Although he’ll probably never write another Broadway musical, Phil Collins approaches the project with the same care and craftsmanship he brings to most efforts, making this disc a nice supplemental choice to your standard Phil Collins collection. As an added bonus, the disc closes with Phil’s own version of “Everything That I Am,” which would have been a deserving choice for a single and is a discovery worth making.

The Songs

1. Two Worlds
2. You’ll Be In My Heart
3. Who Better Than Me
4. No Other Way
5. I Need to Know
6. Son of Man
7. Sure As Sun Turns to Moon
8. Waiting for This Moment
9. Different
10. Trashin’ the Camp
11. Like No Man I’ve Ever Seen
12. Strangers Like Me
13. For the First Time
14. Who Better Than Me (Reprise)
15. Everything That I Am
16. You’ll Be in My Heart (Reprise)
17. Sure As Sun Turns to Moon (Reprise)
18. Two Worlds (Finale)
19. Everything That I Am

Music and lyrics by Phil Collins.

The Players

Jim Abbott (conductor, keyboard 1), Martyn Axe (keyboard 3), Merle Dandridge (Kala), Javier Diaz (percussion), Jenn Gambatese (Jane Porter), Chester Gregory II (Terk), Shuler Hensley (Kerchak), Tim Jerome (Professor Porter), Donnie Keshawarz (Mr. Clayton), Daniel Manche (Young Tarzan), Hugh Mason (bass), JJ McGeehan (guitar), Ethan Popp (associate conductor, keyboard 2), Horace V. Rogers (Snipes), Alex Rutherford (Young Tarzan), Gary Seligson (drums, percussion), Roger Squitero (percussion), Josh Strickland (Tarzan) with Andrew Barrett (synthesizer programmer), Trevor Barry (bass on 19), Jason Boshoff (programming on 19), Anders Boström (flutes), Phil Collins (vocals and drums on 19), Marius de Vries (orchestral arrangement and programming on 19), Bruce Eidem (trombone), Anthony Kadleck (trumpet), Jeanne LeBlanc (cello), Theresa MacDonnell (french horn), Robbie McIntosh (guitar on 19), Charles Pillow (reeds), Alexis Smith (orchestral arrangement and programming on 19). Produced by Phil Collins, Frank Filipetti, Paul Bogaev and Chris Montan; music coordinated by Michael Keller, associate producer: Doug Besterman, engineered and mixed by Frank Filipetti, recording production managed by Janet Weber, cue mixer: Jason Stasium — except track 19 produced by Marius de Vries, engineered by Elliot Scheiner, mixed by Andy Bradfield, additional engineering by Andrew Page.

The Pictures

Creative direction by Steve Gerdes. Album design by Add to the Noise. Cast photos by Joan Marcus and Heinz Kluetmeier.

The Plastic

Released on compact disc on June 27, 2006 in the US (Walt Disney, 61541-7) and the UK (EMI, 368463-2). Reached #170 on the US charts.

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