The Australian production company Global Creatures (of the arena spectacular Walking With Dinosaurs and the upcoming How to Train Your Dragon) is creating the large-cast show, drawing from the classic Depression-era movie (and the public-domain novel, according to Variety) in which a giant ape is plucked from a tropical island and brought to New York City — to appear in a vaudeville house. Expect a massive robotic Kong to rule the stage. The show is aimed at theatres rather than arenas, the creators said.
It will play the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, starting in early 2013.
As previously reported, King Kong – Live on Stage will feature a score by Marius de Vries (Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet") and a book by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss). De Vries will also arrange the period songs.
Daniel Kramer (Woyzeck at St. Ann's Warehouse) will direct. The production will boast a cast of more than 40 onstage actors, singers, dancers and puppeteers.
The creative team will also include Helpmann Award winner Peter England (production design), Sonny Tilders (creature design), John O'Connell (choreography), Tony Award winner Roger Kirk (costume design), Olivier Award winner Peter Mumford (lighting design), Gavin Robins (aerial/circus direction) and Frieder Weiss (projection design). The musical has been authorized by the estate of "King Kong" film co-director Merian C. Cooper.
Carmen Pavlovic, chief executive of Global Creatures, said in an earlier statement, "At its heart, King Kong is a love story which is why we have chosen the more intimate space of a proscenium theatre to tell this epic tale. We want to immerse the audience in the emotional journey of the book and music as much as the spectacle of our pioneering animatronics and puppetry.
"We are honored to collaborate with the Merian C. Cooper Estate. Through the input of Cooper's son Richard and daughter Terry we have a lifeline to the heart and mind of the great man and the thinking that informed his iconic creation.
"Cooper's intent was simple – to create a great story about an encounter between a beauty and a beast. However in reviving this story our theatrical challenge is to find something new to say. Kong is about love but it is also about many other things - a fall from grace, community; sacrifice and the consequences of degrading a culture and its environment. These themes are startlingly relevant today and some of what we hope to explore in our re-telling."