Based on Disney's epic animated musical adventure and Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan features heart-pumping music by rock legend Phil Collins and a book by TONY Award-winning playwright, David Henry Hwang. High-flying excitement and hits like the Academy Award winning "You'll Be in My Heart" as well as "Son of Man" and "Two Worlds" make Tarzan an unforgettable theatrical experience.
Washed up on the shores of West Africa, an infant boy is taken in and raised by gorillas who name him Tarzan. Apart from striving for acceptance from his ape father, Tarzan's life is mostly monkey business until a human expedition treks into his tribe's territory and he encounters creatures like himself for the first time. Tarzan struggles to navigate a jungle, thick with emotion as he discovers his animal upbringing clashing with his human instincts.
ACT ONE Synopsis
Off the coast of Africa, a small British ship is thrown about the sea. A Victorian Father, Mother and baby wash up on a tropical beach. As the father begins to construct a shelter, a family of apes enters. The apes, Kala and Kerchak, play with their own baby. The apes and humans are of separate worlds, but they share a common love of family. A leopard enters and swipes the apes' baby. Kala is devastated. Then, the leopard kills Father and Mother - but not before Mother puts her baby in a trunk for protection. Kala finds the human baby in the trunk alone and crying. She takes him in ("Two Worlds"). When Kerchak finds Kala with the human baby, he is not pleased. This human baby cannot replace their son; Kala knows this, but also knows that the baby needs a family. She names the baby Tarzan. Kala comforts a crying Tarzan, promising she'll always be here for him ("You'll Be In My Heart").
Ten years pass and Tarzan is the odd man out amongst the other ape children. A group of apes are picking on him when Terk comes to his rescue. Tarzan says he can take care of himself, but Terk points out that they both have special skills and can help each other - Terk can save Tarzan from the bullies, and Tarzan can help Terk pick fruit from a high tree. Tarzan isn't sure how he benefits in this deal, but Terk claims he has a lot to teach Tarzan ("Who Better Than Me?").
Tarzan makes a fruit picker from a stick and a stone, and is quite pleased with himself. Kerchak sees Tarzan threaten the apes with this 'weapon' and leads him deep into the jungle. Kerchak believes the only way to protect his true ape family is to abandon Tarzan in the jungle ("No Other Way"). Kala is very distraught by Kerchak's decision, but he insists that Tarzan will hurt them when he becomes a man.
Alone in the jungle, Tarzan is confused and hurt by the rejection from his father ("I Need To Know"). Kala finds him trying to put mud on his skin to be more like an ape. She insists that he is no different from her, but he protests. She points out that they both have two hands and a heart - they are the same. However, they have to live away from the group for a while. Tarzan vows to be the best ape ever. As Tarzan and Terk grow, Tarzan gains strength and ingenuity. Kala watches as they grow from boys to adults ("Son Of Man"). Kala goes to visit Kerchak, who is not doing well without her. She tells him that Tarzan is working hard to please him, but Kerchak is still very worried for Kala alone in the jungle and for his family with the threat of a nearby human. Kala reassures Kerchak that she loves him despite his stubbornness and he asks her to come home, but insists she can't come home alone ("Sure As Sun Turns To Moon").
In the jungle, Tarzan and Terk try to build a leopard trap; Tarzan's ability to tie knots allows him to build the trap, and he tries to teach Terk to tie knots but it doesn't work. As Terk and Tarzan bicker about Tarzan's new skill set, Terk gets caught in the trap. Just then, the leopard arrives. Tarzan manages to spear and kill the leopard, which he presents to Kerchak. Satisfied that Tarzan is not a threat to his family, Kerchak welcomes him back home. At that moment, a gunshot is heard. Kerchak knows what this means and ushers the family back home away from the gunshot, but Tarzan disobeys and goes in the direction of the noise.
Jane, a young Victorian woman, enters. She excitedly writes down the names of the new and enchanting flora before her eyes ("Waiting For This Moment"). In her ecstatic daze, Jane doesn't notice that she has become trapped in a plant web and that a giant creature is approaching her. Luckily, Tarzan has been watching and he rescues her. They are both shocked by each other, but slowly start to get acclimated. Jane teaches Tarzan a few words - including each other's names. Tarzan is enchanted by this creature that is so different from him, and yet so similar"Different").
ACT TWO Synopsis
The apes, led by Terk, are trashing the human camp ("Trashin' The Camp"). Tarzan and Jane enter just in time to see the destruction. Jane is awestruck by the apes and then realizes that Tarzan is one of them. There is another gunshot and Kerchak leads the apes - including Tarzan - off. Clayton, the expedition guide, and Porter, Jane's father, arrive. Clayton is angry that Jane has gone off on her own. She points out that she has managed to do just fine and has made an amazing discovery: apes do live in family groups as her father has always suspected. Jane also tells them about Tarzan, but Clayton dismisses the idea of an ape-man. While Jane and Porter revel over the discovery of the gorillas, Clayton schemes with his henchman about catching a few of them to take back to England to sell.
Back in the depths of the jungle, Kerchak leads the family further from the humans. Tarzan assures him Jane means no harm, but Kerchak knows better. He tells Kala she must tell Tarzan the truth about his origins. She is worried, but Kerchak is also worried that he'll lead the humans right to them.
Meanwhile, Jane is sketching Tarzan and they are learning more about each other. Jane returns to her father and he realizes that there is more going on with Jane and Tarzan than even she realizes ("Like No Man I've Ever Seen"). Porter goes off to do more exploring and Clayton enters. He is very critical of Jane's enthusiasm and compassion for the apes. As they are arguing, Tarzan enters. Porter returns and is pleased to meet him, but Clayton sees the potential for money. Jane asks Tarzan to take them to the apes, but he refuses because of Kerchak. Clayton is not happy about Tarzan's resistance.
Jane takes over Tarzan's education and shows him pictures of the human world. Tarzan is fascinated to learn about all of these creatures that are just like him ("Strangers Like Me"). Tarzan introduces Jane to his mother, Kala, and Jane realizes how much the apes really are Tarzan's family.
Later, Kala asks Terk to help her find Tarzan. Kerchak wants to move the family and it's time for Tarzan to come. Terk is bitter that Tarzan has been spending so much time with Jane. Jane and Tarzan muse about how much they mean to each other ("For the First Time").
The ship arrives to take Jane and Porter home. Jane wants to bring Tarzan back to England, but he is conflicted about leaving his family and home forever. Clayton lies to Tarzan and says that if he shows him to the gorillas, Jane can stay with him. Tarzan convinces Terk to help him win Jane by leading the humans to the gorillas; Terk agrees against his better judgment ("Who Better Than Me - Reprise"). When Tarzan takes the humans to meet the gorillas, Jane explains there has been a misunderstanding. Kerchak enters angrily and yells at Tarzan for endangering the family by bringing humans. He tells Tarzan he must decide if he is a human or an ape. Kala takes Tarzan to his family's old house and shows him the truth of his parentage. Tarzan is stunned ("Everything That I Am"). Tarzan decides that he is a man, which means he is leaving. Kala is heartbroken, but says she will always be with him ("You'll Be In My Heart - Reprise").
Back at the human camp, Tarzan shows up dressed in his father's suit. Jane goes off to pack and the apes enter to study Tarzan's garments. Clayton emerges with a rifle; he starts to shoot them. Kerchak is struck. Tarzan takes Clayton's gun, but he doesn't shoot him - he forces Clayton into the cage that Clayton had prepared for Tarzan. As Kerchak lays dying, he finally accepts that Tarzan is his son and passes along advice for how to lead the family ("Sure As Sun Turns To Moon - Reprise").
As the crew prepares to board the ship, Porter points out that while Jane was trying to teach Tarzan, he was actually the one teaching her. They say their goodbyes. Moments later, Jane reappears - she is staying with Tarzan because she is home ("Two Worlds - Finale").