The Tarzan from New York

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Don’t let Dan Domenech’s polished Long Island, New York-breeding fool you. He can get down and dirty and roll with the apes—in song and dance too.

Dan is Viva Atlantis Theaterical’s “import” for its upcoming production, Tarzan, The Disney Musical, which goes onstage on June 14. This classic tale by Edgar Rice Burrough’s was adapted by into a smash hit animated film, and has now been reimagined for the stage with a book by David Henry Hwang and the award winning songs of Phil Collins.

Essaying the lead role, The Manila Times sat down with Dan on Thursday, and learned just how he ended up across the seas to do this local production.

“I got a call from a friend of mine in New York that Chari Arespacochaga, who is the director for this staging, is looking for someone to do Tarzan in Manila. I sent her a tape of me singing songs from the show and here I am!” the Latino-American actor revealed. “It’s my first time in the Philippines, been here for two weeks and I love it.”

Dan is especially happy to be working with Atlantis’ “regulars” whom he describes as a very professional team. “The cast is so hard-working. There’s no drama, and everyone’s been prepared at rehearsals from the very first day.”

The ever-ready cast of Tarzan is comprised of both mainstream artists and thespians. Dan’s leading lady is Rachelle Ann Go as Jane Porter; Ima Castro is Kala, Tarzan’s mom from his “ape family” in the jungle; Calvin Millado plays his dad Kerchack; Jeffrey Hidalgo is his best friend Terk; and Eugene Villaluz, of the New Minstrel’s fame, as Professor Porter.

Tarzan tells the story of a baby taken in and raised by a tribe of gorillas in the Congo. Tarzan grows up unconditionally loved by his adoptive mother, Kala, but struggles to find acceptance from his father, Kerchak. He survives the wild and tries to be “the best ape ever” with the help of his best friend, Terk. A human expedition arrives under the leadership of Professor Porter and jungle guide, Clayton. With them is the adventurous Jane Porter who arrives in the jungle and feels right at home. When Tarzan finally meets her and finds that there are strangers just like him, their worlds are changed forever.

Dan has never played Tarzan before but is not new to Disney stage productions having played Alladin in Southern Utah. His Broadway debut meanwhile was in the lead role of Drew in Rock Of Ages, which Atlantis also staged in Manila this year.

His other credits include the pre-Broadway productions of Sister Act and Wonderland; and regional stagings of Rent, Altar Boyz, The Who’s Tommy. On American television, Dan has also appeared in the hit TV musical, Glee.

“He’s a triple threat!” exclaimed veteran theater actress Ima Castro, who is back in the Philippines to work after continuing stints in London’s West End. “He even co-choreographed Adelle’s video for Chasing Pavements,” she added like a proud mom.

“She’s just wonderful,” Dan rejoined. “Ima’s perfect for the role because she’s so nurturing. We always have everyone in tears at rehearsals.”

Asked if he would be open to another stage production in the Philippines if Atlantis offers him a part, the grounded Broadway actor quickly replied, “Definitely! I’m willing to be a stool if they restage Rock of Ages.”

The Viva Atlantis Theatricals’ production of Disney’s Tarzan is directed by Chari Arespacochaga and runs at the Meralco Theater from June 14 to July 7. For tickets call 687-5853 loc 661 or 892-7078 or Ticketworld at 892-7078.

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