Megamusical King Kong Stalks Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre

By Adam Hetrick
January 28, 2014

The Australian musical spectacle King Kong, which ends its world-premiere Melbourne run in mid-February, is aiming to conquer Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre later this year, according to the New York Times.



Gerry Ryan of Global Creatures, which produces the Australian production of King Kong, told Australian Radio Station 3AW, "I was in New York recently and went to the theatre, and so, they're getting ready — Spider-Man's closed there at the Foxwoods and we'll be opening on December 12 this year."

Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark ended its Broadway run Jan. 4 at the Foxwoods Theatre.

Global Creatures executive Carmen Pavlovic and members of the King Kong creative team were in New York in late 2013 to identify potential Broadway theatres capable of housing the large-scale production. Only four or five Broadway houses are large enough to accommodate the high-tech production that stars a six-meter-tall puppet as Kong. A team of 35 on-stage and off-stage puppeteers are employed to manipulate the creature. The creative team is already at work in Melbourne constructing a second animatronic puppet for a future production of the musical.

Pavlovic previously told the New York Times that she anticipated launching a second production of King Kong in 2014, with a third to follow in 2015. Additional cities such as London, Seoul, Japan, Germany and Holland are also potential markets for the pop musical.

According to Ryan, the creative team is reworking the musical for New York audiences.

Representatives for King Kong did not immediately respond to Playbill.com's request for comment. 

King Kong won five of Australia's Helpmann Awards this year, including Best Lighting, Best Sound, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design and Outstanding Theatrical Achievement.

Read what Australian critics thought of King Kong here. Playbill.com also has photos from the production here. 

The new musical features 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.

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 character of King Kong, according to producers, is "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."

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.

King Kong is authorized by the Merian C. Cooper Estate. Global Creatures produces.

For more information go to kingkongliveonstage.com.

Here's a look at Kong: