The creators of the first-ever musical adaptation of King Kong promise “the most ambitious theatrical event of the decade,” with a multi-million dollar production blending new technology and ancient puppetry to bring the massive Kong to life onstage.
Five years in the making, the Australia-based show is directed by Daniel Kramer, with an international cast featuring over 40 actors, singers, dancers and circus performers, as well as a one-ton, six-meter-tall Kong designed by Sonny Tilders, whose company Global Creatures created the mind-blowing live arena events “Walking With Dinosaurs” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
Unlike effects guru Carlo Rambaldi's famously failed attempt at creating a life-sized Kong for the 1976 film version, Tilders' new creation taps into his own background in bringing dinosaurs and dragons to life in real-time. “It was going to be the most complex creature we ever made,” he said of the half-robot, half-marionette Kong design, which will also be manipulated by visible operators under the guidance of puppetry director Peter Wilson, who was inspired by the ancient “Bunraku” style of Japanese puppetry.
“Much of the magic of puppetry is in seeing the puppeteer,” says the director, “the double vision of both the creature’s life and the human beings creating that illusion; the audience’s imagination participates in this process, thereby projecting their own emotions onto the creature. So when a creature is injured or wronged, a part of the audience, our psyche, is wronged.”
King Kong opens in June at Melbourne's Regent Theatre, with preview shows slated for May. You can see lots more images, videos and updates – as well as ticket info – at the show's official site.