Most Critics Find Tarzan Less Than D’Vine
Tarzan, the super-expensive Disney Broadway entry in the 2005-06 theatre season fell far short in its reach for the critical ropes. In the reviews, only one critic seemed to enjoy herself. In awarding *** stars to the final show of the season, USA Today’s Elysa Gardner gushes, “Not since I saw Elton John's Billy Elliot in London last year have I been as impressed with the uncynical warmth and charm of a kid-friendly musical.”
Quite frankly, as much as I enjoyed Billy Elliot - The Musical, it was most definitely not kid-friendly (in fact, there is even a parental advisory on the Web site, advising, "As a rule of thumb, when booking tickets for parties including children, please consider the film version of "Billy Elliot" --rated 15 -- and whether this would be suitable for all members of your party." Kid-friendly, indeed.)
Perhaps it's that delusion that separates Gardner from her other colleagues, including those who take issue directly with the Disney organization. Ben Brantley of The New York Times excoriates the spectacle by digging, “…We now have conclusive evidence that the Disneyfied Tarzan does indeed flatten perversely when translated from two dimensions into three." Clive Barnes of New York Post further points blame by noting "...the show was wrecked from the onset by its concept. Perhaps the Disney people will realize that not every one of their cartoons contains the kernel of a great Broadway show." Howard Kissel of New York Daily News sums up his negative review with "Tarzan wouldn't make the grade as a ride at Disney World. On Broadway, it seems merely a tourist trap."
Newsday’s Linda Winer snipes that the latest Disney musical begs for comparisons with its gold standard Broadway hit The Lion King, explaining simply, "Tarzan disappoints big time…. Despite the expertise, the evening feels amateurish.” Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press inveighs that “...The show, directed and designed by Bob Crowley, is emotionally and musically lightweight -- almost as skimpy as Tarzan's leather loincloth.”
As noted previously, given the box office muscle and SRO crowds Tarzan has already pulled, one wonders whether the show -- despite the critical pans -- is likely to be on the ropes anytime soon.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
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Flashback: Best of 2004-05 (May 26, 2006)
Disney Moves from Continent to Continent (May 22, 2006)
Tarzan Swings Into Broadway Tonight (May 10, 2006)