BANGS — “I think we’re ready.”

So declared Bangs High School senior Clarissa Wilson, a cast member in “Tarzan the Stage Musical,” which the theatre department will perform Nov. 16-18 in the high school auditorium.

Wilson, who plays the role of Tarzan as a boy and also plays an ape, talked about her role during a rehearsal break Thursday night in the school’s auditorium — one of the final rehearsals before playing before a live audience.

“Young Tarzan is this energetic boy … he thinks he’s an ape,” Wilson said. “He’s got a lot of energy. His family doesn’t accept him besides his mother, so he’s struggling to find out where he is.”

Apes talk, sing and dance in the high-energy, rolicking production — which includes some moments of sorrow, rejection and loss — and it’s one of Wilson’s favorite Bangs High School productions.

When asked to describe the experience of playing a 10- or 11-year-old boy, Wilson said, “It’s a little weird because (theatre director Billie Harvey) will tell me ‘you’re sitting like a girl. You need to sit more like a boy.’ I’m like, how do boys sit?

“So it’s a little weird, but it’s cool at the same time.”

Wilson said it’s also fun playing an ape. “I get to participate in ‘Trashing the Camp.’ It’s this super energetic, really fun song and I get to swing around on the platforms,” she said.

“I like the show. It’s really, really energetic and fun.”

Wilson said she didn’t have trouble learning her lines, but “the choreography was kind of difficult for me, because it’s a lotta, lotta moving.”


As the cast and crew prepared to begin the Thursday night rehearsal, Harvey told her actors she wanted them “listening and reacting … the songs are extensions of your characters.

“You all are doing a great job. Keep pushing.”

They’ll never be perfect, Harvey told the young actors, “but we never stop trying to be perfect. All right, let’s start it at the top. I want this to be crisp. I want it to be fun.”

The rehearsal went on despite the absence of one of the major characters — Jane, played by freshman Sara James, a cheerleader who was at a football game.

Harvey read Jane’s dialogue and sang her songs throughout the rehearsal.

As the story begins, Tarzan’s birth parents have barely survived a shipwreck off the West African coast. Nearby, a gorilla named Kerchak, his mate Kala and their infant son live among a tribe of apes.

A leopard runs off with the tiny ape and kills the humans who survived the shipwreck. Kala rescues the baby from the leopard and names him Tarzan, and gives him a home over Kerchak’s objections.

Proper British naturalist Jane Porter, meanwhile, arrives in the jungle with an expedition that includes her father, the eccentric Professor Porter, and the villainous guide Clayton. An awkward and cautious love begins to develop between Tarzan and Jane.
Tarzan at one point decides to go to England with Jane and the rest of the expedition. His plans change after Clayton kills Kerchak and Tarzan realizes the now-leaderless tribe needs him. That leaves Jane with a decision of her own as she struggles to determine what makes a family.

  Junior Corbin Freeland, who plays the grown-up Tarzan, described ape-man as kind and thoughtful. “He falls in love with something that’s different. That’s something new to him because he’s been an outcast all of his life,” Freeland said.

Freeland said performing the Tarzan yell didn’t come natural to him, and he learned it from studying the movie version.


“All right guys,good show tonight!” Harvey called out as the Thursday night rehearsal ended.

Harvey said she tends to describe the play as a “dramady because there are some moments that are really touching. There’s some really tragic moments as well, and then it ends on a hopeful one. It’s a little bit of everything.

“(Jane) in the end realizes that (the jungle) is really where she belongs, and she decides to stay, and stay with Tarzan. And that’s where the story ends.” 

Performance times are:

• 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16

• 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17

• 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, with a dessert theatre beginning at 1:45 p.m.