King Kong Musical Receives Australian Workshop; Is Sarah McLachlan Attached?

By Adam Hetrick
13 Sep 2012

Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan

The new stage musical adaptation of King Kong, which is preparing for a June 2013 premiere in Melbourne, is testing out material in an Australian workshop the week of Sept. 10. There has been hope for a future New York life for the gotham-set tale of man and beast.

As previously reported, the Australian production company Global Creatures, which also developed Walking With Dinosuars and How to Train Your Dragon, is creating the mammoth ape that infamously scales the Empire State Building in the classic film. While the creative team has been testing some of the ape's mobility, Kong himself will not be ready for the workshops. The creature will not be fully functional until it is installed in the Regent Theatre next year.

In August, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwrtier Sarah McLachlan announced via Facebook that she was among the musicians contributing music to King Kong, which promises revamped Depression-era songs and new material. Representatives for King Kong did not confirm McLachlan's involvement. However, an Oct. 6 press event at the Regent Theatre will reveal what's in store for the production. Casting and complete creative personnel are expected on that date.

The weeklong workshop, helmed by Daniel Kramer (Woyzeck at St. Ann's Warehouse), culminates in two private presentations Sept. 14-15. The musical has a book by Tony Award nominee Craig Lucas (The Light in the Piazza, Marry Me a Little, Prelude to a Kiss) and features a score by Marius de Vries (Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet"), who has also arranged the period songs.



Previously announced creative team members 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.

"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."