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Volume 2759


Tuacahn's Red Rock Cliffs
June 07 - October 15, 2010
Tuacahn Ampitheater
1100 Tuacahn Drive, Ivins
The jungle comes to life in the desert as Tuacahn Amphitheatre presents the regional premiere of Tarzan -- the Broadway musical based on the popular 1999 Disney film and beloved story by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan features the songs from Disney's film as well as nine new songs written specifically for the Broadway production. Playing during the summer and fall every Monday, Wednesday, Friday (some dark nights).
The 2,000 seat Tuacahn Outdoor Amphitheater
Tuacahn - Broadway in the Desert
The Tuacahn Center for the Performing Arts is a non-profit arts organization situated in the mouth of Padre Canyon near Snow Canyon State Park.  This facility operates a 2,000 seat amphitheater where outdoor musical productions are presented.   The amphitheater sits below towering 1500 foot red sandstone cliffs.  This year Tuacahn presents three great new musical productions; Tarzan, Cats and Crazy for you! 

The overall facility is 42,000 square feet and was completed in 1995.   Along with the outdoor amphitheater, there is a 330 seat indoor theater, a dance studio, a black-box theater, a recital hall, a costume shop and scene shop, studios, classrooms, and a gift shop.   Many of the facilities at Tuacahn are utilized for a private high school that is focused on the performing arts.

Tuacahn is known for presenting professional large-scale musical theater productions as part of the annual “Broadway in the Desert” series.   These Broadway style productions are presented in the amphitheater each summer and fall (generally June-October).   Professional and local actors, directors, and designers are utilized for the three main-stage productions.    During the holiday season the center also presents The Festival of Lights with a live nativity and many concerts are presented year-round.


James Royce Edwards performs the
title role in Tuacahn's "Tarzan." 

Actor Cessalee Stovall as Kala and Talon G. Ackerman 
as young Tarzan perform in Tuacahn.

Actors Talon Ackerman as young Tarzan and 
Evan D'Angeles as Terk perform in Tuacahn.
We are proud to share these observations of the production from
Denny "Tarzan" Miller has had a long Hollywood career, 
which began as a film Tarzan in TARZAN, THE APE MAN in 1958, 
after which he appeared in a multitude of popular films and TV series. 
See ERBzine 1480
and the Official Denny Miller Website at:
We've just returned from St. George, Utah and we enjoyed the performance of  TARZAN THE MUSICAL. 

The cast was very talented. The characters had to swing high above the stage on Bungee cords and cables. Most of them did lots of tumbling including Tarzan. The theater is in a red rock canyon with a river running through it. At one point they flood the stage with water. Then Tarzan's mother and father pole a raft to shore. They used a doll for the baby Tarzan. 

The production was delayed for 20 minutes because of high winds. They told us 17 mph winds are the cut off point to put on the play. For safety reasons. The winds dropped and on with the play. Later, during the play, the winds howled again. They didn't stop the performance. As a matter of fact the winds added to the excitement of several scenes.

It was a sell out crowd. It's almost sold out through mid-October. Lots of young kids in the audience.  It alternates each week with CATS.

We went with the Dean of the Theater Arts Dept. of BYU. He was there to watch how one of his graduate students performed. The fellow that played Tarzan -- he had a terrific singing voice, was a great tumbler, looked just right for the part and could swing from a cable high above the stage with one hand. 

From the ovation at the end of the show I'm sure everyone enjoyed the evening.

On the two-hour drive from Las Vegas we noticed several big billboards about the show. I got to meet James and Summer after the show. They played the roles of Tarzan and Jane. They both have had Broadway experience and showed it.

Denny Miller


Setting helps 'Tarzan' succeed
Las Vegas Review-Journal ~ Oct. 17, 2010
Tarzan" found a home in St. George, Utah. And that iconic hero swinging through the Tuacahn Amphitheatre yells a reminder to a glitzier city a couple of hours down the highway. Saturday was to be the last night of a real blockbuster for the 1,800-seater: "The biggest-grossing show in our (15-year) history," says director Scott Anderson, besting even "Les Miserables." . . . The show was by most testimony better than the Broadway version. The physical production came to life in a way that wasn't possible in Broadway's historic Richard Rodgers Theatre.

"(Broadway) was just a green box. It didn't look like a forest. It didn't look like anything," says Cees de Kok, the Las Vegan who staged the aerial choreography for the Utah version. "Tarzan" was the show Tuacahn was built for. It just had to wait 15 years to show off the "lake" and waterfall installed for a best-forgotten musical history of Utah.

De Kok and his wife, Cathy, commuted up and down I-15 from his "night job" in the Stratosphere's "Bite." Working with apparatus installed by Las Vegas-based Flying By Foy, he spent more than a month teaching the cast to fly. It all paid off with Tarzan swooping down for his first look at Jane and plucking a ribbon from her hair. Not onstage, but in the aisle of the audience."Tarzan" proves you don't have to get it right the first time. But why wait? . . . More>>> 

Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal 

Tuachan Summer Season Tarzan and Cats at the Tuachan Amphitheatre ~ July 28, 2010 
Each summer The Tuachan Amphitheatre and Center for the Arts puts on a “Broadway in the Desert Series” which this year includes the first production of Disney’s Tarzan since it played on Broadway.  In this my first visit to Tuachan I saw Tarzan and Cats and had a terrific time.

Tuachan Amphitheatre is located at the mouth of Padre Canyon below the 1500-foot towering red rocks of Ivies Utah that is adjacent to Snow Canyon State Park. This theatre complex is part of a larger facility that encompasses a school for the performing arts, a smaller 330-seat theatre, a dance studio, a black-box theatre space, a recital hall and the appropriate costume and set building facilities. The staff is committed to the goal of providing family entertainment while also promoting the exposure of high school students to the world of musical theatre. The Amphitheatre was originally built to house the outdoor musical drama Utah, which celebrated the founding of the state of Utah. Overt time the emphasis has shifted to the Broadway musical.

Tuachan was granted the rights to the Disney musical Tarzan that had recently played in New York. Previously they had been the first regional theatre to present Les Miserables. Disney's trust in these producers is totally justified because the productions at Tuachan are fully professional and feature some first-rate talent.

Take the case of Tarzan. The theatre is outfitted with “Flying by Foy’ and the production draws on the expertise of some Vegas professional circus artists to teach the cast the art of aerial flight and action. Most of Tarzan takes place in the air and Tarzan’s entrance from out of the rocks is a sight to behold — pure magic. . . . The cast is full of good singers and talented dancers. Scott S. Anderson provides the fine direction.

Tuachan is only a short one-hour drive from Las Vegas and 1-½ hours from Cedar City and its famous Shakespearean Festival. By all means, visit this magnificent location and see some exciting work. I look forward to a return visit. Tarzan, Cats, and soon Crazy for You, will be playing in rep until mid October. More>>>

Tuacahn celebrates 15th anniversary with impressive summer season ~ July 27, 2010 
IVINS -- A major player in Utah's performing arts community is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a blockbuster summer.  "I have performed on Broadway stages and around the world, but there is nothing like this place." - Evan D'Angeles, performerSurrounded by Utah's famous red rock, musical theater under the stars once again draws a crowd. Tuacahn Amphitheater is having the most successful season in its history. 

This summer's offerings include the regional premier of Disney's "Tarzan." "He's Tarzan; he's pretty much like a Disney superhero. It's the coolest part in the world," says James Royce Edwards, who plays Tarzan in the Tuacahn production. "Tarzan is breaking all of our box office records," says Scott S. Anderson, Tuacahn's artistic director. "I have never seen a show sell like this. We are packing in almost 2,000 people a night." 

Many cast members say they have fallen in love with Utah. "It's a beautiful venue here at Tuacahn," says performer Evan D'Angeles. "I have performed on Broadway stages and around the world, but there is nothing like this place."  More>>>

From 'Tarzan' to 'Cats' — Musicals step out at Tuacahn's red rock cliffs
Deseret News ~ June 5, 2010

It's a jungle out there — well, southern Utah, to be exact. 
"We're trying to convert the desert into a jungle," said Scott Anderson, artistic director of Tuacahn Amphitheatre, who talked excitedly about the upcoming summer season. We have the regional premiere of Disney's 'Tarzan.'?"

Based on the 1999 animated Disney movie, the stage version, featuring the music of Phil Collins, opened on Broadway in 2006 but closed a year later. "What people don't realize is that it was one of the biggest musicals ever mounted on Broadway," Anderson said. "It was $20 million, and it was already in the black before it opened, the presale was so large. When it opened on Holland, it beat out 'Lion King' and 'Les Miz,' and it's doing the same in Germany right now. It's had quite a post-Broadway life."

Tuacahn's » Tarzan and the flying apes
Salt Lake Tribune ~ June 16, 2010
From above the turned-into-a-jungle stage, Tarzan swings into the scene on a zip line, making a grand entrance, like a super hero. Or maybe a rock star. It's a specific and memorable moment, as the audience is first introduced to the grown-up version of the musical's title character, played by James Royce Edwards. His sculpted body and disheveled long hair are enhanced by his costume of a simple loin cloth. This dramatic moment that relies on the technical fireworks of a flying rig reveals everything about Tuacahn Amphitheater's staging of Disney's "Tarzan," the first regional production of the musical since it closed on Broadway in 2007. 

Director Scott Anderson, Tuacahn's artistic director, has created a visually rich, spectacle-laden show, telling the story of the popular 1999 Disney film, adapted from Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic tale. Anderson's staging makes creative use of both the theater's outdoor space, as well as its challenges. For example, that entrance of Tarzan's, while he's not technically swinging in on a tree vines, yet flying cords offer audiences the visual effect of jungle lines. Aerial choreographers Cees De Kok and Cathy Perquin have helped actors in embodying primates, conveying physical ease while suspended high in the air. 

Another example of technical skill comes at the end of Act I, when Jane Porter (Summer Broyhill) discovers the flora and fauna of the jungle. It's a colorful scene, filled with vibrant human-sized flowers, and insects that come alive in an aerial ballet. 

The production's flying heavy, and a drawback to all that aerial stagecraft is it slows down the action. Tuachan's large stage requires the actors to cover a lot of airspace, and all that jungle swinging starts to feel predictable and less of a novelty as the show progresses. While the high-energy choreography incorporates acrobatics and other ape-like movements, yet several of the numbers were marred by the lack of synchronization. 

Technical effects aside, Talon G. Ackerman shines as the young Tarzan. The boy actor is perfectly cast as an orphan rescued by she-ape Kala (Cessalee Stovall) after his parents' are shipwrecked and killed by a leopard. Ackerman has a particular wild beauty, and conveys the innocence of a young creature trying to learn everything from his elders. His small body contorts to assimilate the movements of the apes. 

He and Stovall gracefully convey the chemistry between a mother and son, especially when she throws him on her back as a mother gorilla might do with one of her own. Stovall also has the vocal chops to enchant the audience, such as in the popular "You'll be in my Heart." 

As for grown Tarzan, he has charm and appeal as a wild man in his simian behavior. But the actor appears like he just walked out of a gym, his body too buff and polished to be a convincing creature of the jungle. He could use a little dirt. Better at embodying his animal side is Sam Zeller's Kerchak, the tribe's ape leader, whose large body is enhanced by his ape costume. Equally outstanding is Evan D'Angeles as Terk, the blue Mohawk-wearing gorilla, who physically appears at ease on stage and in all his interactions, which makes him a likeable, watchable character. 

This is a show that rests on its technical effects rather than emotion, while allows the costumes and pop songs of the score to take center stage. That's why the scenes of subtle, instinctive acting between Kala, the mother gorilla, and young Tarzan, her adopted gorilla boy, are such standouts. 

Going Ape for Tarzan at Tuacahn!
Utah Theatre Bloggers ~ June 16, 2010

IVINS — I have been looking forward to seeing Tarzan for so long!  In part, because Phil Collins has been my all-time favorite, award-winning, singer / song-writer / drummer . . . and more than a few Tarzan soundtracks have been worn out in our home.  Also, Tuacahn is currently the only regional theater licensed in the U.S. to produce Tarzan.  In fact, this production is Tarzan‘s post-Broadway regional theater debut.

To start the evening—and my first experience reviewing for UTBA—I arrived early to anxiously anticipate the gates opening to avail my first glimpse of the stage as I was sure the jungle would begin to come to life in this desert setting even before it started.  To my dismay, the stage was bare and plain.  Had I not known what I was seeing, (and with the exception of all the Tarzan memorabilia for sale at the patio kiosks), I would have never guessed which production I was about to see.

After the typical Tuacahn welcome and announcements, the stage lighting starts to dance and flash, the jungle drumming begins, and my heart and adrenalin quickly sync to the beat! Now I’m on board and completely engrossed!

There is a ship mast, almost unnoticeable in the far back hills, which is set in front of the breath-taking Tuacahn red rock mountain backdrop.  It begins to sway and then sinks as the raging water floods the stage (an effect Tuacahn is famous for).  A shipwrecked mother, father and baby float across the stage and finally lodge on the West African shore as the stage fills with jungle from every angle.  The music and drums intensify!  Gorillas begin their entrance from cables, bungee cords, and tree tops.  They descend from above and dangle only feet above audience members as they twirl and swing and mimic all the primate gestures we watch so often at monkey exhibits!  (Kudos to the costumer & choreographer, as I almost forgot these were humans!)  A few wild cats (Leopards) prowl the stage on all fours with their glowing eyes.  I soon realized that the leopards are an important piece of the storyline—as it’s at their jaws that the parents meet their fate—which leaves the infant abandoned in a luggage chest.  He is soon to be discovered by his new primate mother Kala (Cessalee Stovall), who has recently lost her gorilla baby.  Kala takes the infant under her protection and brings him into the gorilla tribe and names him Tarzan.  It’s this “adopted bond” between a mother and her son that tightens the audience’s heart strings throughout the rest of the story.  It’s this same love and bond that is sure to bring tears before the finale.

Young Tarzan (Talon Ackerman) is amazing and becomes my focal point every time he is on stage.    He has a beautiful young voice, he can certainly dance, and he does acrobatics like no novice.  He is also not afraid of some high flying and swift aerials!  (Ackerman will be leaving his Tuacahn family on July 13th to play the role of Michael Banks in the first National Tour of Disney’s Mary Poppins, upon which Payton Kemp will take his place as the young Tarzan.)

One of my favorite scenes is when Young Tarzan is swinging high above the stage from a cable and then flies stage right and exits into a cave in exact syncopation with Older Tarzan who is descending from a high cable from the distant red rock to make his “grown-up entrance”.  The audience whispers “ooh’s and ah’s” in concert—and I experience instantaneous chills!  Older Tarzan (James Royce Edwards) and his “partner-in-crime” and the clown of the show primate buddy Terk (Evan D’Angeles) share many learning / teaching / bonding moments on stage as they forage the jungle together and often disobey Kerchak (Sam Zeller), Tarzan’s adopted father and Ape tribe leader. Eventually, Tarzan encounters his first human – Jane Porter (Summer Broyhill), a curious young explorer – and both of their worlds transform forever.

Jane attempts to teach Tarzan “human words” as Tarzan smells, touches, strokes and invades personal space looking for bugs in Jane’s beautiful long locks. Jane shows him a slide-show of civilized life back home and Tarzan swings her from trees and takes her home to introduce her to his ape mother.  (Jane notices the mother-son bond and is envious because she did not have the privilege of a mother in her life.)

The time eventually comes for the ultimate decision to be made: Will Jane stay or will Tarzan go? It’s a painful choice and I found myself wondering what I would do: stay with the family who raised and loved me or go back to “my kind” and follow the love of my life?  Tarzan makes his initial decision and I am upset!  I should learn to be patient (you would think I didn’t already know the ending)!  Jane must have heard my thoughts and she finally makes the right choice.  As Tarzan cradles Jane in his strong arms, they ascend to the back of the upper deck to live happily ever after.  Truth?  This is where I got bugged that Jane was in her “civilized” dress!  I whisper to the woman next to me that I’m disappointed because I feel she NEEDED to come out in her “jungle dress” so we can have confidence that she truly “fit in” with the gorilla tribe.

Again, patience is not my virtue!  Don’t fret.  Jane soon swings from stage right in her cute jungle ensemble and Tarzan from stage left with his 6-pack and they hang and flip in the middle “as gorillas do” before dropping to the stage for their final bows.

The greatest challenge in this production was the “flying”!  Scott Anderson (Director) has often referred to Tarzan as Peter Pan on steroids.  After making some additions to their facility for Peter Pan in 2006 and with the engineering talents of Flying by Foy, aerial choreography by Cees de Kok and Cathy Perquin and stage choreography by Mic Thompson, Tuacahn has been able to overcome this difficulty in a thrilling way. In fact, I can only recall one scene where flying did not occur!  It was so exciting!

Awesome, awesome performance!  Children and old alike will love Tarzan!  If you live in Salt Lake, this show is worth the trip! Performances are sold out for June so call soon to book for July – October 15th.

Tarzan opened June 7th and plays through October 15th on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Tuacahn Amphitheater in Ivins, Utah.  Show times are as follows: June – August 8:30 PM, September 8:00 PM and October 7:30 PM.  Tickets are $17-56.  For more information, visit


Leading the cast of 38 in the title role is James Royce Edwards. Edwards has starred on Broadway and on the national tours of Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Pippin, and All Shook Up. Off-Broadway, James has starred in Altar Boyz, Matthew Passion, and Wanda's World.

At his side in the role of Jane will be Summer Broyhill, a veteran of Hairspray on Broadway as well as the national tours of Hairspray and I Love a Piano. About the opportunity to perform in Tarzan at Tuacahn, she says, "Even when you perform professionally, you still relish the moments when your jaw drops and you succumb completely to believing in a magical world with its own set of rules. I think this production really has the potential to be that kind of magical."

Editor Notes: 
We've attended each of the premiere nights for the Tarzan stage productions 
on Broadway, New York in 2006, 
Schevinengen in the Netherlands in 2007
in Hamburg, Germany in 2008
and Tuacahn Amphitheatre, Utah in 2010

Tarzan Musical 2010:

Tuacahn Amphitheatre - Ivins - Utah




Backstage I

Backstage II

 The Complex

The Show

Cast Mingle

Broadway 2006
Tarzan: The Broadway Musical
Tarzan: The Musical in Holland
Tarzan: The Musical in Hamburg
Tarzan: The Musical in Utah

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