Daniel Kramer will direct a cast led by Australian actors Esther Hannaford (Hairspray) as Ann Darrow, newcomer Adam Lyon as Carl Denham, Chris Ryan (Thyestes) as Jack Driscoll, veteran stage actor Richard Piper as Captain Engelhorn and musical theatre and cabaret star Queenie van de Zandt as Cassandra. An official opening night has been set for June 15.
The new musical features a book by Craig Lucas, 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 a score that will feature 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.
"There are two universes – there's New York and there’s Skull Island," de Vries said in a statement. "What we're looking to do is to explore the relationship between those two places – what the differences are, but how they are somehow connected. Each place has its own distinct musical language but there are elements of those languages that are shared, but transformed as they move from one to another. There's geography to it, which is informing the structure of how we’re styling it. And then also an interplay between the music of the period, and the music of our period."
"The sampler represents about half our score, so there are plenty of surprises for audiences when the curtain goes up," music supervisor Max Lambert added.
Songs revealed for the production include:
"The Greatest Show on Earth." Music by Justice and Marius de Vries. Lyrics by Daniel Kramer, Craig Lucas & Marius de Vries.
"In The Face of Forever." Music and lyrics by 3D from Massive Attack, Guy Garvey and Marius de Vries.
"What's It Gonna Take?" Music and lyrics by Sarah McLachlan.
"Special FX." Music by Marius de Vries. Lyrics by Michael Mitnick and Marius de Vries.
"Colossus." Music by 3D from Massive Attack. Lyrics by Michael Mitnick.
"The Avalanche's 'Get Happy.'" Music by Harold Arlen. Lyrics by Ted Koehler. Sample of Dies Irae (music by Giuseppe Verdi).
"A Simple Prayer." Music by Marius de Vries. Lyrics by Daniel Kramer, Michael Mitnick and Marius de Vries.
"Rise." Music by Marius de Vries. Lyrics by Michael Mitnick.
The musical, according to press notes, "has gone back to the source – the novella of the original film by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace – in this world-first adaptation as a large-scale musical. Featuring a cast of 49 actors, singers, dancers, circus performers and puppeteers; a crew of 76; and arguably the most technologically advanced puppet in the world - a one-tonne, six-metre giant silverback - King Kong will be an epic and dazzlingly original theatrical experience."
The creative team also includes choreographer John O’Connell, production designer Peter England, creature designer Sonny Tilders, Tony Award-winning costume designer Roger Kirk, lighting designer Peter Mumford, Grammy, Tony and Olivier Award-nominated sound designer Peter Hylenski, Green Room Award-winning projection designer Frieder Weiss, aerial and circus director Gavin Robins and puppetry director Peter Wilson.
The character of King Kong, according to producers, will be "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 authorized by the Merian C. Cooper Estate. Global Creatures produces.
For ticket information call 1300 111 011 or visit ticketmaster.com.au.
For more information go to kingkongliveonstage.com.