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‘Disney’s Tarzan’ swings across the Norvell stage next week

By Savannah Deal

Piedmont Players Theatre

Though Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced our favorite ape-man in his 1914 novel, and we’ve seen the character portrayed throughout the 20th century in film and television, the Tarzan for the new generation has been largely popularized by the 1999 animated Disney film. With such memorable characters and original songs by Phil Collins (of “Genesis” fame), Disney adapted the film into the 2006 Broadway musical by the same name, and you can see it swinging into Piedmont Players’ Norvell Theater this month…quite literally!

The set, with green vines from top to bottom, is impressive in itself, but with the most respected theatrical flying service in the world, Flying By Foy, coming to Salisbury to outfit the Norvell with the equipment needed to fly the fabulous cast of young actors around the stage, Tarzan is sure to be a show you won’t want to miss.

Like the film, the story follows the life of Tarzan, who after a leopard kills his shipwrecked family, is raised by gorillas. Lauren Hunkele, a recent graduate of Northwest Cabarrus High School, plays his adopted mother Kala, while Carson High School senior Jimmy Reiff playing his begrudging and suspicious adopted father Kerchek.

Tarzan grows up like all the other apes, swinging from vines and causing trouble with his closest companion Terk (Micah Cross, Tanner Groppi). Yet Tarzan’s existence in the jungle is called into question after the arrival of British naturalist Porter (Gray Stone Day junior William Clark), his daughter Jane (Carson senior Amery Barton), and their guide Clayton (Recent Carson grad Jacob O’Neal).

Tarzan, curious at the discovery of other human beings, falls in love with Jane, who is curious at the discovery of a man raised by apes. Together they teach each other new and exciting ways of life, without realizing the Clayton might have ulterior motives in finding the gorillas.

Barton, as Jane, has been seen recently in PPT’s High School Musical (Sharpay) and Macbeth (Lady Macbeth), to name just a few.

As for the man himself, Tarzan is brought to life by East Rowan senior Corbin Elliott, who recently played the title role in Carson High School’s Shrek the Musical, as well as appearing in PPT’s High School Musical, 13, and Les Miserables. Owen Teague, an 8th grader at North Hills Christian who, in addition to multiple Norvell shows, played Gavroche in Les Miserables this past season, plays the younger version of the title character.

Expect all the vine swinging you’ve come to know and love, as well as an incredible score by Phil Collins and book by Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang.

The production is directed and choreographed by Gwen Matthews, designed by Reid Leonard, with music director Laurie Klaus, stage manager Dante Cataldo, and the help of producing partners F&M Bank and Salisbury Community Foundation.



WHEN: July 9-11 and 16-18 at 7:30 p.m., and July 11, 12 and 18 at 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Norvell Theater, 135 E. Fisher St.

HOW MUCH: $10 for students/seniors and $12 for adults.

INFO: 704-633-5471 or come by the Norvell Theater box office at 135 E. Fisher St. during business hours.


Meet the Cast

KALA: Lauren Hunkele

KERCHEK: Jimmy Reiff

TARZAN: Corbin Elliott

JANE: Amery Barton

PORTER: William Clark

CLAYTON: Jacob O’Neal

TERK: Tanner Groppi

LEOPARD: Kendall Garmon

YOUNG TERK: Micah Cross


FATHER: Drew Gobbel

MOTHER: Zoë Watson

FLOWER/FLYING APE: Brooke Baldwin, Berkley Loeblein

FLOWER/APE: Georgia Reichard, Ava Drexel, Hannah Venable, Hannah Katherine Wall, Caroline Sobolowski

SNIPES/APE: Garrett Alewine

CREATURE/APE: Ke-shun A. Bradley

APES: Shelbee Bryant, Carson Sifford,  Hunter Cates, Hunter Baynes,  Morgan Warren, Kaylee Hawley, Jackson Campbell, Brittney Hogan, Joe Cornacchione, Olivia Shoemaker

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