Tarzan the ape man has swung from Africa to Hopkins County for his debut performance at Sulphur Springs Middle School Friday evening. Heartwarming music from Phil Collins will fill the theater as dozens of local children tell the famous Edgar Rice Burroughs story.
“‘Tarzan’ is going to be the same story that everyone knows and loves. I tell the kids that it’s not just a love story between Jane and Tarzan, but a story about the love Tarzan shares with the mother who adopts him,” said Shining Star Productions owner Amanda Thompson-Brandenburgh.
“‘Tarzan,’ based off the 1999 Disney film, is about young boy who was orphaned in the jungles of Africa and adopted by apes Kala and Kerchak. The apes raise the young boy as one of their own. As Tarzan becomes a man, he is reunited with humans who have journeyed to Africa on an expedition to study gorillas in the wild.
“It really is a beautiful story that gives me chills,” said Thompson-Brandenburgh.
Several years ago, Shining Star Productions debuted “Peter Pan.” They used flying rigs to hoist actors high off the stage. Thompson-Brandenburgh said the experience was thrilling and she has been wanting to produce another play using the flying harnesses ever since. After listening to the soundtrack of Tarzan, she knew this would be the perfect play to bring to Sulphur Springs.
“Out of everything I have directed, this is my favorite show because of the music,” said Thompson-Brandenburgh. “We have a group of actors who have grown with every production we have done so far. Over the years, our kids have never run away from any challenge, and we are going to see some amazing things from them this year.”
Last week, a wire-work instructor flew to Sulphur Springs to set up the rigs needed for Tarzan to gracefully swing from tree to tree across the SSMS stage.
“Their team is out of Las Vegas and has worked with Katy Perry on her show. They helped us out on ‘Peter Pan’ a few years ago, and made it a seamless process,” said Thompson-Brandenburgh. “We have been working on Tarzan since September of last year with kids from age four to 18. So far it is going smooth. We are going to have 11 people flying in ‘Tarzan ‘with cool effects we have not done before.”
Tarzan debuts Friday, July 24, at 7 p.m. Performances are Saturday, July 25, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, July 26, at 2 p.m. and Monday, July 27, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at Alliance Bank, the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce or by calling 903-438-5217.
“We are going to have 500 seats available for each performance and have added an additional show from last year,” said Thompson-Brandenburgh. “Although we are at a smaller venue this year, we are not going to be sacrificing any of our normal punch or pizzazz. We are excited.”