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ACT I to present ‘Tarzan’ Friday, Saturday

Continuing to celebrate its 15th season, ACT I will bring “Tarzan” to the Cartersville stage Friday and Saturday.

“We knew we wanted to return to The Grand Theatre with a bang, so our board spent a lot of time looking at the options for musicals,” said Kristy Montgomery, director of “Tarzan.” “We’d narrowed the choices to a few, but then we found ‘Tarzan’ and the decision was made for us. Between the familiar story and music we know and love from the Disney movie and the gorgeous Broadway additions, we knew we had a hit on our hands even before we cast the show.

“‘Tarzan’ is a different musical than anything Cartersville has seen in years, possibly ever. The choreography is inspired by the jungle — our dancers are predominantly portraying gorillas and that impacted the style of dancing tremendously. The music is intricate Phil Collins, which provided a challenge that our incredible cast rose to meet. We are incredibly excited to show the city what we can do.”

Following its opening performance Friday at 7 p.m., “Tarzan” will continue Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m. at The Grand Theatre, 7 N. Wall St.

“Tarzan is a musical based on the original story by Edgar Rice Burroughs,” Montgomery said. “It tells of an orphaned baby boy who is rescued by a heartbroken gorilla named Kala and raised as her own. Having grown up amongst gorillas, Tarzan has no idea what he actually is — he knows that he is different, but he’s never met another human before. Enter Jane Porter, the adventurous, spirited British explorer who has come to the jungle with her father — a professor — and their brutish guide to study the flora and fauna. As soon as Tarzan and Jane meet and their two worlds collide, they know immediately that they’ll never be the same again.

“There is an overwhelming theme of belonging in this musical. Tarzan doesn’t fit in entirely with the gorillas, and he doesn’t really fit in with the humans either. He spends his life desperately searching for that feeling of belonging, and he finally finds it when he has both Jane and his mother in his life. That sense of desperation to find a family is something I think everyone feels at some point in their lives. We struggle to belong as young children just as much as we do in adulthood, even if it manifests differently.”

Along with Montgomery, the musical will be overseen by Bob Whaley, technical director; Kimberly Human, music director; and Christina Weinzetl, choreographer. The cast will feature Clay Duke as Tarzan, Sydney Shultz as Jane Porter, Audrey Arnold and Jes Stika as Kala, Reece McCamy as Kerchak, Autumn Townsend as Terk, Noah Ragus and Christopher Milligan as Professor Porter, Kevin Barnhart and Tanner Jordan as Clayton, Ethan Sonenshine as Young Tarzan, Marley Brooks as Young Terk, Ashlee Bagnell as Tarzan’s human mother, Sean Alexandersen as Baby Tarzan, Tyler Rawlins as Snipes and Charli Shane as the leopard. The ensemble includes Jordan Shaffer, Delaney Smith, Celtia Stewart, Kathryn Davidson, Caroline Dreyfus, Aubry Dorsey, Savannah Humphreys, Elena Bern, Elyse Tindall, Jillian Arnold, Carter McCamy and Tracy Easter.

“The mission of The Grand Theatre is to provide a variety of performing arts programs for our community,” said Terri Cox, program director for The Grand. “This includes entertainment as well as education. We love any opportunity to work with community groups that feature young performers. This fosters their performing skills and gives the wider community a chance to support them. It also is a perfect type of performance for young audience members to enjoy with their families.

“I have worked with Ms. Montgomery for many years, beginning with her participation in our music theater camps when she was still in high school. During her college years, she began working as my production assistant on various shows and camps. In recent years, Kristy has taught acting classes and directed fall youth shows at The Grand. She has a real love for young people and believes in the value of participation in theater experiences. It is very satisfying to see one of our students come into her own and take our vision into the next generation.”

Established in 2002, ACT I is a nonprofit youth theater organization tailored primarily for ages 12 to 20.

“ACT I was formed 15 years ago with the goal of providing a safe, welcoming, encouraging environment for youth in Cartersville and the surrounding area to explore the performing arts,” Montgomery said. “Over the years, we have grown tremendously and made a name for ourselves. We work hard not only to provide opportunities, but to give our kids a chance to grow themselves as people. In the last few years, we’ve blossomed even further with new and exciting shows and offerings, but we’re eternally grateful to our previous boards and founders. “I started with ACT I as an actor 14 years ago, and began directing not too terribly long after that. I joined the board around that same time, and ultimately took on the role of co-president — alongside Bob Whaley — and program director two years ago. Over the last 14 years, I have been overwhelmingly blessed to work with what I truly believe are some of the most talented young people anywhere. My No. 1 priority in any show is for the kids to enjoy themselves. … We have been fortunate to put on some truly incredible shows over the years, and I’m so proud of every one of them.”

She continued, “‘Tarzan’ has been a dream for me because I’ve gotten to work with the most amazing staff. Moreover, we’re all ACT I alumni, which makes it extra special that we’ve been able to grow up and put together this show as a birthday celebration. The end of our 15th season comes with one more show. We’ll be producing ‘Oliver Twist,’ a non-musical for individuals 10 [to] 16 years old. We’ll be auditioning for it on Thursday, March 30.”

Tickets for “Tarzan,” which will cost $15 per person and $12 for groups of 10 or more individuals, will be available in advance or at the door. There will be a $2 processing fee.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 770-386-7343, view http://thegrandtheatre.org or visit The Grand Theatre Ticket Office Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 5 p.m. Further details about ACT I can be obtained on its website, www.allstarstheatre.org, or Facebook page.

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