Will Gigi Director Eric Schaeffer Bring King Kong to America?

News   Will Gigi Director Eric Schaeffer Bring King Kong to America? Playbill.com has learned that the retooled production of the musical spectacle King Kong, which is looking towards a New York run, will be directed by Eric Schaeffer.

Eric Schaeffer
Eric Schaeffer Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

As previously reported, Tony Award-winning Urinetown director John Rando, currently represented on Broadway with the revival of On the Town, had been in talks to helm the musical.

King Kong will feature a rewritten book by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman (The Secret Garden; 'Night, Mother), who shared the news of Schaeffer joining the team.

"We have Eric Schaeffer on board to direct," Norman told Playbill.com. "It's very thrilling. It was done in Melbourne. Since then the whole creative team has changed."

King Kong opened June 15, 2013, at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, Australia and ran through February 2014. Reviews for the production, which can be read here, were mixed.

Norman shared her take on the musical, saying, "King Kong, for me, [is] a story about the earth. It's not a story about the beauty and the beast. It's a story about how faced with the other, the big thing we don't understand, we kill it. And we need to stop doing that. We've killed the Arctic already. Maybe we can figure out a way to not kill the whole planet." "Kong himself is a beautiful creature and is a picture of the other, and considering what we're dealing with – the Middle East or the Arctic, either one  — we have to think better about all of these issues," she continued. "We can't … operate this way. We can't operate in the model of 'Well, if we don't understand it we have to kill it.' We have to do better, and we have to try to not kill the earth."

The co-founder and artistic director of Virginia's Signature Theatre, Schaeffer is currently directing the Broadway production of Gigi, which was first seen at the Kennedy Center. His Broadway directing credits also include Follies, Million Dollar Quartet, Glory Days and Putting It Together.

Representatives for the Kennedy Center did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of Schaeffer directing King Kong.

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The Australian production's centerpiece was a one-ton, six-meter-tall silver back gorilla, controlled by a group of puppeteers and aerialists who bring the massive puppet to life on stage. It featured a book by Tony Award nominee Craig Lucas (Marry Me A Little, The Light in the Piazza), who also contributed lyrics. Composer and arranger Marius de Vries, whose credits include the soundtracks for "Moulin Rouge" and "Romeo + Juliet," created and oversees 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" as well as new and existing songs from a mix of contemporary artists: Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack, Sarah McLachlan, Justice, Guy Garvey from Elbow and The Avalanches. A key collaborator on the musical landscape for the show is Stephen Pavlovic from Modular People; Michael Mitnick has contributed lyrics to several new compositions.

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