February 27, 2014
It’s that time of year again…Dinner Theatre hell week. My friend and co-cast member Bradley McKee describes hell week perfectly: “So, for those of you not familiar with theater lingo, ‘hell week’ is the week before the show when you have rehearsal every night, tensions and stress levels are running through the roof, and you are living off of a healthy diet of your own tears that you’re shedding constantly throughout the entire process.” This year, BCM is proud to present Disney’s Tarzan and I have to say, it’s one of the most incredible shows I’ve been a part of. I’ve also been blessed to be a part of the production team as choreographer for the show, which has been an unexpectedly challenging, yet rewarding experience.
As I write this, I’m sitting in the empty audience watching the second act of our final dress rehearsal. Tarzan has just informed Kala that he is leaving to go to England with Jane. Kala is singing “You’ll Be in my Heart” with more emotion than I can handle on so little sleep. All I can think is whoever sits in this seat tomorrow night better bring some tissues. I’m not usually much of a crier, but I can’t say that this show doesn’t get to me. I think it will be getting to any graduating Senior sitting in the audience this weekend.
Relating college to being raised by apes may be a bit of a stretch, but I feel an undeniable connection with Tarzan as he faces a future outside of his jungle home.
Tarzan begins the show as a confused and misfit human tot trying to find his identity and his sense of belonging in a world of apes. Through the time and trials of life in the jungle and unexpected encounters with strangers like him, he finally finds himself, is accepted by the apes and comes to understand the true meaning of family. He experiences the loyalty and forgiveness and protection that comes along with family. The safety of a close-knit community in the midst of a dangerous world.
Most college students I have talked to have shared a similar story of searching and becoming. We came to this huge campus not knowing who we are or where we belong. Fortunately, most students find their way and form a community before too long. I am so grateful for the time I have spent here at UGA, the identity I’ve discovered in myself, and for the family groups I have formed- my Dinner Theatre family, my church family, my BCM family, my roommate family, my dance team family. I can say that this place has become a home to me like no other.
But as for Tarzan, destiny calls. And to quote the great Phil Collins, “when destiny calls you, you must be strong.”
It would be so tempting to find a reason to stay in Athens. And I believe there is nothing wrong with finding a home and planting roots there. But for me, and for a lot of my graduating friends, our destiny awaits outside of Athens. Perhaps even outside of Georgia. Or the US. Whether you are planting your heels and dragging to graduation or whether you are racing to the finish line, it takes incredible strength and courage to walk forward into new places and step away from all you know.
So, with all this on my mind, the reprise of You’ll Be in My Heart absolutely wrecks me. In one of the most comforting, yet heart wrenching lines of the show, Kala tells Tarzan to “just look over your shoulder..I will be there.”
I love the city of Athens, but it’s the people in Athens that really hold my heart. And packing up my apartment and moving out is going to feel a little like ripping out my heart (because I’m feeling dramatic). But I love what Kala and Tarzan sing in this song. They will always be a part of one another, no matter how far the distance between them. My Athens family will always be in my heart because they are a part of me. Because of the memories we’ve shared and the lessons I’ve learned through them. I’ve always supported the “look forward, not backward” take on life, but I know that I will never stop looking over my shoulder when I leave this place. It’s the only way I know to take it with me. It’s the only way I know to take them with me. They’ll be there for me always.
Show Plug: Not only does Tarzan have a deep and meaningful message, but the story is told by an incredibly talented cast. You will not want to miss the gifted acting, phenomenal singing and fun dances included in this show. On top of that, the ticket money goes to Send Me Now missions – the summer mission program that has funded many of my mission trips and many of my friends’ trips! For show times and ticket info, visit www.ugabcm.org/#/dinner-theater.