Avondale Theatre Company’s ‘TARZAN’ is Equal Parts Engineering and Acting

The Avondale Theatre Company (ATC), Avondale High School’s award-winning drama troupe pulls out all the stops to deliver the fun when students hit the stage this week and next week to bring the classic Disney musical TARZAN to life. Students began design of the set that includes a working waterfall, zip lines and trampolines over the summer and started building it once the cast and crew were assembled shortly after the start of the school year.

The cast of ATC's 'Tarzan'

The cast of ATC’s ‘Tarzan’

Avondale senior and ATC Stage Manager, Robin Coker is quick to point to the crew when talking about overcoming the challenges of putting on a show that is equal parts engineering and acting. “I don’t mind the challenges. We have a great facility here at Avondale that makes it possible to incorporate a lot of technical effects into our shows. We are a student-led company with lots of ideas and hard workers and students that have a surprising amount of knowledge and technical expertise. Every crew member deserves the credit for getting through the challenges – together we’ve put together a show that the audience is going to really enjoy.”

Avondale teacher and ATC director of 29 years, Edmond Guay agrees that the show was challenging, “This was a huge step into an unknown world for the company, we did things we’d never even tried before… and we had way too much fun finding ways to solve performance issues.”

Guay is joined by Avondale Vocal Music Director Kevin Cornwell, Avondale Instrumental Music Director Joshua Neuenschwander, and community members Matt Bramble, Samantha Monahan, Julie Semones and Betina Dubois in overseeing and supervising the company of more than 160 Avondale students from Kindergarten to 12th grade.

In addition to Coker, leading the back stage crew are Assistant Stage Manager, senior Molly Toger; Producer, junior Lila Letica; seniors Cheyenne Westover (set and scenic painting) and Ashley Andrews (costumes); and juniors Alex Zuehlk (props), Josh Miller (lighting), and Geoff Steward (sound). Student Director, senior Abby Tang will be assisted by juniors Meghan Gwilt and Antonio Vettraino serving as the production’s Youth Ensemble Coordinator and Student Music Director.

On stage, junior Nathan Clifton will play the role of Tarzan, seniors Sarah Monahan and Conor Lovell portray Tarzan’s adopted ape-parents, Kala and Kerchak, sophomore Annie Youngs plays Jane, senior Caitlin Blomberg makes her onstage debut as Tarzan’s ape buddy Terk, senior Ian Krueger plays Clayton, sophomore Marshall Brown plays Porter, sophomores Rachel Jones and Nick Christy play Tarzan’s human parents, sophomore Brendan Hart plays the Jaguar, and senior Elijah Sangalang plays Snipes. Avondale Middle School students, eighth-grader Jack Youngs and seventh-grader Katie Christy play Young Tarzan and Young Terk and rounding out the cast are seniors Ashley Andrews, Jarrett Buikema, Chris Bush, Evan Fultz, Brent Fultz, Myah Hall, Noah Harrison and Nick Mannino; juniors Meghan Gwilt and Antonio Vettraino; sophomores Lauren Andrus, Daniel Barr, Kevin Cornwell ll, Keva Cornwell, Tess Chargo, Yashar Sadaghiyani, Chloe Stark and Mackenzie Tillison; and freshmen Carly Gordon, Isabella Javier, Miranda Miller and Zoe Williams as the ensemble of apes, hunters, and living jungle flora. An ensemble of twenty middle school and elementary school students are cast in alternate performances as the youngest members of Tarzan’s ape tribe.

TARZAN will be presented in the Avondale Performing Arts Center located inside Avondale High School (2800 Waukegan, Auburn Hills) on Thursdays and Fridays, November 5, 6, 12 and 13 at 7:35 p.m.; and Saturdays, November 7 and 14 at 2:05 p.m. Adult admission is $10 and students (grades K-12) are only $5. Children under 5 are free when accompanied by an adult.

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