Show History



Tarzan was based on the 1999 Disney animated film of the same name, which was, in turn, based on the 1912 story, Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Both the animated film and the original story were huge successes, the film opening at #1 at the box office and garnering over $448,000,000 worldwide, and the book spawning a dozen sequels and eight live-action movies. Although the music in the stage musical was written by the same Phil Collins that wrote for the animated movie on which it was based, libretto writer, David Henry Hwang, was entirely new to the title, adapting the work of a team of writers who had penned the animated screenplay.


Tarzan began its stage musical life with a reading in late 2003, starring "Glee's" Matthew Morrison in the title role. A workshop then came to fruition in January of 2004 with Morrison again reprising his role as Tarzan with Laura Bell Bundy of Legally Blonde fame joining as Jane and Adam Pascal, the original Roger from Rent, as the Tarzan Storyteller.

With a book by David Henry Hwang, Phil Collins, the composer and lyricist of the 1999 Disney animated film of the same name, stepped back in to flesh out the musical by expanding upon the songs he had written for the film and adding nine new, original numbers.

After continued development that included tackling the many technical aspects of how to create a landscape in which the actors could swing and fly, Tarzan began its Broadway previews at the Richard Rogers theatre on March 24, 2006, officially opening just over a month later on May 10, 2006. The production was helmed by director, Bob Crowley, and choreographer, Meryl Tankard, and starred Josh Strickland, Jenn Gambetese, Merle Dandridge, Chester Gregory, II, and Shuler Hensley.

Following a run of 35 previews and 486 performances, Tarzan then closed on Broadway on July 8, 2007. Successful productions have followed internationally in the Netherlands, Philippines, Sweden and in Germany, where the actors playing Tarzan and Jane won their respective roles on a casting television show.  Regional productions have abounded as well, with such theatres as TUTS, Tuacahn Center for the Arts, North Shore Music Theatre, The Barn and Arizona Broadway Theatre mounting productions of the high-flying musical.

Cultural Influence

  • The Broadway cast album, entitled Tarzan: The Broadway Musical Original Broadway Cast Recording, was released on June 27, 2006.


  • Tarzan is the only Disney show to arrive on Broadway without an out-of-town tryout.
  • Tarzan's best friend, Terk, who was a female in the 1999 Disney animated film, is a male in the musical.