King Kong Musical Makes World Premiere Down Under

601126_398217063550029_1852401511_nHe’s bad. He’s back. And he is bigger than ever before. Some stories are just too good to disappear forever. They continuously make their way back into lives through urban legends, myths or tales passed from generation to generation. A story that has fascinated the world for decades is making it’s way to the stage in a new world premiere musical. Dozens of movies have been made, thousands of people have watched but only one can dominate. Kong is Back. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you coverage of the new King Kong musical which officially opens tonight!

King Kong on Stage is a musical that features a book by Craig Lucas who also contributed lyrics for the production. Composer and arranger Marius de Vries, created a score that features revamped versions of 1930s Broadway classics like “Get Happy,” “I Wanna Be Loved By You” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”. He then worked to create new and existing songs from contemporary artists. Some of these artists include Robert Del Naja, Sarah McLachlan, Justice, Guy Garvey and The Avalanches. Stephen Pavlovic from Modular People has also worked as a musical collaborator with Michael Mitnick contributing lyrics to several new compositions. While countless remarks have been made, the story of King Kong follows the story line of the original film by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace.

480654_10151591573993926_33884093_nKing Kong will officially open tonight at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne. The show began previews May 28th, 2013. The show is currently offering tickets through July 28th, 2013 and is hoping for a bow on Broadway sometime in the near future. However, no official announcement has been made at this time.  The show features a cast of 49 and a crew of 76. The press release notes that King Kong on Stage will be a “dazzlingly original theatrical experience”.

8558515845The show is mostly made up of Australian actors. Leading it all is Esther Hannaford who stars as Ann Darrow, Adam Lyon who stars as Carl Denham, Chris Ryan who stars as Jack Driscoll, Richard Piper who stars as Captain Engelhorn and Queenie van de Zandt who stars as Cassandra. The title role of King Kong, is played by the largest puppet ever created. The ensemble is made up of 35 on and off stage puppeteers who work to manipulate the Kong puppet. But how exactly do they work it? Puppeteers are positioned on swinging trapezes and others launch themselves as counterweights off the puppet’s shoulders. By doing this, they help raise Kong’s massive arms as he runs and swipes at planes during various songs and scenes during the musical.

Production-Development-Set-Model-of-Kong-Breaking-Out-Of-Time-Square-Theatre-CRD-PETER-ENGLAND-1024x768Leading the entire production is director Daniel Kramer who has been working on Kong for the past few years. The show will also feature choreography by John O’Connell. The rest creative team also includes production designer Peter England, creature designer Sonny Tilders, Tony Award-winner Roger Kirk as costume designer, Peter Mumford as lighting designer, Grammy, Tony and Olivier Award-nominee Peter Hylenski as sound designer. The show also features an expanded creative team including Green Room Award-winner Frieder Weiss as projection designer, Gavin Robins as aerial and circus director and Peter Wilson as puppetry director. A scenic model of the production is pictured above.

When asked about King Kong, director Daniel Kramer said the following;

“It’s tempting to focus on the spectacle of King Kong himself. But it is only through the humanity of the life around him – the people of New York City, the comic megalomania of filmmaker Carl Denham, the stubborn opposition of first mate Jack Driscoll, and the grace, beauty and power of our leading lady, Ann Darrow – that he truly takes life. After three years of auditions and workshops, it is an honour to introduce the world premiere cast of King Kong.”

164402_510341462337588_1671887548_nThe puppet used in King Kong is truly one of a kind. It is the largest puppet ever created on earth for anything. The producers released a statement describe the puppet as; “an imposing, stylised silverback of exaggerated proportions…a highly sophisticated animatronic/marionette hybrid that will be controlled by the integration of hydraulics, automation and the manual manipulation from a team of puppeteer/aerialists (The King’s Men) on stage, and off.”

King Kong is Revealed

I could not be more excited for the opening night of King Kong on stage tonight! I have been following this musical for quite some time and it is truly revolutionary and groundbreaking. Nothing like this has ever been done before in the theatre. Puppets have made their way into major productions, mostly with Disney, such as The Lion King, Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid. However, this is on an entirely different scale. This musical could and will change the puppet world and theatricality forever. While no New York bow is definite, I only King Kong will make his way from down under to the Big Apple. This musical would bring an entirely new experience to Broadway through puppetry, spectacle and a true musical theatre story.

King Kong will officially open in Melbourne Australia at the Regent Theatre Tonight! If you have the chance to experience King Kong in it’s world premiere run in Melbourne, I would suggest attending! We only wish we could visit down under for this groundbreaking musical theatre event. Don’t lose sight of New York Kong. We’ll be waiting for you. For more information, visit King Kong on Stage’s Official Website. Be sure to check Luner on Theatre on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter as well! We are constantly updating these pages with information! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!

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