TRAVERSE CITY — Tarzan of the Apes was famous for swinging through the jungle from vine to vine.
But no vines are necessary for the cast of Miracle Productions' latest musical, "Tarzan," which opens July 11 at Milliken Auditorium in Traverse City. The actors worked with Aerial Angels out of Kalamazoo, who trained them to use aerial silks, much like those used by performers in Cirque du Soleil, said Miracle’s director and founder, Pat Gallagher.
“This show is challenging because it has the element of suspension of disbelief," Gallagher said. "We have to create the illusion of flying through the trees.”
Learning to use the silks for flying was one of the main reasons Julia Krueger, a 2008 Traverse City Central High School graduate, said she returned for her third season with the company. Krueger, who majors in dance at Western Michigan University and is dance captain for this production, already had extensive dance experience but was looking to hone a new skill.
“I wanted to learn how to aerial dance,” Krueger said, adding that others in the show already had aerial skills from working with a circus. “I've had some gymnastics experience, and I wanted to work with the aerial silks.”
Most of the cast of 22 are former area high school students, known locally for their outstanding performances in high school musicals, according to Gallagher, a retired teacher who worked with many of them when she directed shows for Central and West Senior High Schools in Traverse City. Now college students, about 50 per cent are majoring in music, theater or dance, she said.
“Because of the music programs here, we have exceptional talent. They needed a venue to showcase their talents, and Miracle provides a quality, touring company-style entertainment for locals and visitors,” she said.
Both the animated Disney movie and the musical "Tarzan" roughly follow the original story written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Exceptions include the character of Terk, a female in the movie version, but a male in the musical. The elephant Tanta does not make an appearance in the musical, though other animals do.