On May 14, LIVE With Kelly & Ryan continued their Broadway Week with a behind-the-scenes look at King Kong. Kong himself was too big to fit in their TV studio, but host Ryan Seacrest traveled to the Broadway Theatre to go backstage with star Christiani Pitts and the big ape himself.
Pitts plays Ann Darrow in the new Broadway musical. The production was nominated for three competitive Tony Awards—Scenic Design, Lighting Design, and Sound Design—and is the recipient of a Special Tony Honor for puppet designer Sonny Tilders.
Pitts recalls when she and the rest of the cast first met the titular star. “We were very emotional. There were a lot of tears, just gasps,” she told Seacrest. “We were overwhelmed.”
Tilders designed King Kong to operate via two methods of puppetry: Bunraku (hand-manipulating the puppet) and marionette.
“Our King Kong was born in Australia and he was shipped over here, similar to the movie—very meta,” Pitts explained.
Seacrest had a chance to move the arms of the puppet (via marionette and Bunraku technique), voice him from the Voodoo booth, and ride the primate “through the streets of New York.”