IF YOU GO
When: 7 p.m. today and Saturday.
Where: Center for Creative Arts, 1301 Dallas Road.
Admission: $15 reserved, $10 general admission, $5 students.
Last October, Disney Theatrical Productions hand-picked Center for Creative Arts as one of four schools in the country to participate in a pilot project of sorts. The Disney company challenged these schools to mount a stage production of its animated film "Tarzan" to see whether such a mammoth musical was feasible on the high-school arts level.
The production that the performing-arts magnet school opened Thursday night exceeds expectations.
Its cast of 28 students sing and dance their way through 18 musical numbers, maintaining a level of professionalism unexpected on a high-school stage.
"Tarzan" is based on the novel "Tarzan and the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs and the 1999 Disney animated film. The score of the stage production includes the film's music written by Phil Collins -- with its popular hits "You'll Be in My Heart" and "Two Worlds" -- along with songs written just for the stage.
CCA art teacher Chad Burnette and students in the school art department have created an impressive jungle set that actually begins as guests arrive in the school auditorium. Vines snake out of the second-floor sound booth, twisting their way across the auditorium ceiling toward the stage. Onstage, two, massive 10-foot trees have hidden platforms at varying levels within their roots, on which the monkeys sing and dance.
David Couter is cast in the title role, swinging onstage courtesy of Flying by Foy. Brittni Rhodes plays Jane, and Kiona Reece is Kala, the gorilla who adopts Tarzan. Jackson Conway, an 8-year-old at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, plays young Tarzan.
Clever, whimsical choreography by Lindsay Fussell transforms the cast into Tarzan's primate family. Costumes have been created by Sydney Roberts of Chattanooga State Community College.
Director Jason Whitehead has created a musical that meets the family entertainment standard of a Disney production. Two performances remain: tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...