Tarzan - March 19 - March 21, 2015

Colonial Players

 Notes from the Director 

Growing up, I managed a steady musical diet of Billy Joel, Elton John, and Phil Collins. I was always intrigued by Phil’s ability to be both the lead drummer and lead vocalist in his bands.  His iconic sound carried over the airways as the lead singer of Genesis and in his solo career.  From his upbeat, fun songs (“Abacab”, “Land of Confusion” and “Sussudio”) to his slow, love songs (“One More Night” and “Throwing it All Away”) to his popular remakes (“You Can’t Hurry Love” and “True Colors”) to his epic anthem “In the Air Tonight”, Phil and his music were a huge part of my growing up.  

I was thrilled to find out that he was pairing with Disney in 1999 to write the music for their upcoming animated film, Tarzan.  The music for Tarzan did not disappoint with hits like “Two Worlds”, “Strangers Like Me”, and “You’ll Be In My Heart".  When Disney planned on taking Tarzan to Broadway in 2006, they again tapped Collins to write nine new songs for the show including “Who Better Than Me” and “For the First Time”.  Recently released to amateur groups, I jumped at the opportunity to direct this exciting show.

The cast and crews have been working relentlessly over the past four months to create memorable characters, vivid sets, exciting light and sound effects, realistic makeup, eye-catching advertisements, seamless scene transitions, beautiful music and exciting action scenes.  It is always a great challenge to take on an iconic story, especially one told by Disney, but the students rose to the challenge and have put together a really fantastic production.  In addition, the ability to include flying effects is not often done in high school productions, but our flight team and actors have conquered a professional effect, bringing the thrill of flight to our stage.  

I am lucky each year to work with a great staff that helps lead our cast and crews.  This year, we unfortunately lost two staples of the Colonial Players family (Jordan Sones and Jennifer Morris Grasso) to the requirements of their full-time jobs, but were lucky enough to find talented, creative additions (Peter Kelsey, Nicole Battestilli and Maria O’Connor) to round out our staff.  Also, a quick shout out to the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly to create vibrant, original costumes by hand for our production.  I am blessed to have talented, knowledgeable people to work with who are completely dedicated to the show, process and students. 

Thanks to the Colonial School District School Board and Administration, along with the Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) Administration and Staff for their continued support of our program.  Each year, over 100 PWHS students get to enjoy being involved in live theater as a part of the Colonial Players.  They learn skills like teamwork, creativity, self-expression, and problem-solving.  In a time where music and theater arts in our country are losing funding, it is refreshing to be in a district that values the benefits of such programs and provides the needed supports to help them thrive.

Finally, a big thank you to my family.  To my wife, Carrie, and sons, Luke, Lance and Bryce: Thanks for your support and understanding as I go on this rollercoaster ride each year.  I  know that it is hard to be apart so often, but I appreciate your encouragement and generosity as I follow my passion.  Don’t worry, I will be home soon.

Thanks and enjoy the show!

Mickey Engel

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