The amazement began early at Sunday’s matinee performance of Tarzan. Lompoc High School’s (LHS) Little Theatre was packed with an audience that was probably half made up of children 10 years and under, and when MiQell White as Kala reached into the wicker basket upstage right for our first glimpse of Tarzan, a whisper went flying around the room. “It’s a live baby!” I heard the 1st graders seated behind me exclaim, and indeed it was. Andrew Barthel, the son of director Sarah A. M. Barthel, was born in October 2014, and he did a fine job keeping his cool in this, his first major role. White was also splendid, not just in this scene, which required the delicate balancing act of holding a baby quietly while singing, but throughout the show. Her scenes with Jamal Whitaker as Terk and Tylon Lee as Kerchak were the anchors of a powerful opening act in which we witnessed the growth of baby Tarzan into a young man as played by Merrick Zellers.
The amazement continued in Act Two as Lompoc High senior Blake Brundy took over the challenging role of grown-up Tarzan. Brundy is a young actor to watch. He combines athleticism with a strong voice and serious chops in this difficult part, which required multiple approaches to characterization. He was fortunate to have the charming and effervescent Hailey Pickles as his Jane. This LHS junior sang beautifully and gave her scenes a comic touch that sent waves of laughter through the happy audience. The terrific costumes are the same ones LHS alum Todd Harper created for the Dos Pueblos High School production of Tarzan, and they remain as fresh as the young faces of those who wore them in this fun and memorable show.