Volume 12 Week 5

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(Posted 5:30 p.m., Feb. 5)
St. Peter production sets new standard for high school musicals
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The St. Peter High School production of 'Tarzan: The Musical' features Blair Plummer and Morgyn Davies as Tarzan and Jane. Fred Sherwin/Photo

When I first heard that St. Peter High School was going to stage its annual musical production at the Shenkman Arts Centre, I couldn't wait to see and hear what musical theatre head Bernard Leger and his students had in store.

The result, which can be seen over the next three nights, is pure theatre magic, and that, if you can believe it, maybe an understatement.

Leger's choice of "Tarzan: The Musical" is sheer brilliance. The production is the perfect confluence of an amazing cast with a collection of some of the finest voices to ever appear in a St. Peter musical; a top notch orchestra that would put many professional ensembles to shame; and out of this world acoustics provided by the Harold Shenkman Hall.

The play is based on the Disney film of the same name with music and lyrics by Phil Collins who no doubt would be tickled pink at the job done by this group of high school students.

I can't say enough about the cast who obviously have been rehearsing their butts off. The primary leads include Blair Plummer as Tarzan, Lindsay White as his adopted mother Kala, Cole Priddle as his adopted father Kerchak, Nick Henriquez as his best friend Terk, and Morgyn Davies as Jane.

All five are amazing, but White, who won the Ottawa Idol competition in 2013, and Davies, who reminded me of British X-Factor contestant Janet Devlin, provide a one-two punch that hasn't been seen in a St. Peter musical theatre production since Samantha Mouchet and Hannah Barrett in the 2004 production of "Les Misérables".

But then again, St. Peter productions have always been blessed by a strong female leads.

The rest of the lead cast includes Gillian Campbell as the leopard; Brandon Mainville as a jungle guide determined to bring Tarzan back to London to put him on display; Olivia Woods as Clayton's assistant; and Robert Gusdal who plays Jane's father and who I've had the pleasure of seeing develop since his early days with the Orleans Young Players. (Nice socks by the way.)

And then there's Emily Howron who does double duty as a member of the ensemble cast and the young Tarzan. Her solo, "I Need to Know", was a definte highlight of Wednesday night's opening performance.

Other highlights included White's solo performance of "You'll Be In My Heart"; Priddle's solo "No Other Way"; White and Priddle's duet "Sure As Sun Turns To Moon"; Plummer and Davies' duet "For The First Time"; and Davies and Gusdal's duet "Like No Man I've Ever Seen".

I could go on and on about this play. It's not just one of the best high school plays I've ever seen, it's one of the best plays I've seen since I started covering local theatre 15 years ago. Aside from the performances, the set design and costumes are on par with anything you'll see at the GTC or NAC, which is a tribute to everyone involved, especially the team of students working behind the scenes.

You still have two more nights to see the play for yourself. Curtain time Friday night and Saturday night is 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general seating and $20 for premier seating including surcharges and can be purchased at the Shenkman Arts Centre box office.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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