Shuler Hensley Offered Part in Tarzan Musical

Tony Award-winner Shuler Hensley is likely to appear in the upcoming Broadway production of Disney's Tarzan.

"I have been offered the role of Kerchak (the grey-black gorilla and Tarzan father) for Disney's upcoming musical version of Tarzan. It will be a huge production complete with jungle and a Phil Collins score. Should be great!," he informed fans on his website. However, no official casting for the Spring 2006 show has been announced.

Disney Presents Tarzan, which will feature a cast of 34 and will play at a theatre to be announced, will be helmed by two-time Tony Award-winner Bob Crowley (Aida, Carousel), who will also design the sets and costumes. Phil Collins, who has received six Grammys for his work as a rock musician, will expand upon his score for the film in writing the music and lyrics for the show, while Tony Award-winner David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Aida) is set to adapt the show's book from the film's script; the latter was penned by Tab Murphy, Bob Tzudiker and Noni White. The 1999 Disney movie featured the voices of Tony Goldwyn, Glenn Close, Minnie Driver and Rosie O'Donnell, with Collins' "You'll Be In My Heart" winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The acclaimed Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard has also been enlisted for the show while Pichon Baldinu (De La Guarda) is set to handle the Aerial Movement. Tony Award-winner Natasha Katz (Aida, The 25th Annual Putnam County Bee) will be the show's lighting designer, with John Shivers (Hairspray, The Producers) as the sound designer.

On September 15th, Hensley will open in The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Dodger Stages. He won a Tony Award for his performance as the menacing Jud Fry in Trevor Nunn's 2002 revival of Oklahoma!; he had previously garnered an Olivier Award for the portrayal. Other Broadway credits include Les Miserables (he has also played the title character in a German production of The Phantom of the Opera). Hensley has appeared on screen in Van Helsing (as Frankenstein's Monster) and Someone Like You.

A January 2004 workshop of Tarzan featured Matthew Morrison as the adult Tarzan and Laura Bell Bundy as Jane, with Will Chase, Chris Fitzgerald, Anika Larsen, Alton White and others also included in the cast. Disney Theatrical Productions, whose past Broadway smashes include Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Aida, is also working on a Broadway-bound production of The Little Mermaid, with the London hit Mary Poppins also set to cross the pond.
For more information on Hensley, visit

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