King Kong / our review
IMPRESSIVE Thrilling spectacular
Nov 8th, 2018
Meet The Beast!
Fun Fact: Jack Thorne (Book) co-wrote Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - another must-see marvel on Broadway! Make sure to get your tickets to that too!
Target Audience: Who doesn't love a good old puppet show? Audiences will be blown away by the high-tech production that pays homage to this legendary story.
Best Bit: Kong - I cannot stop thinking about King's Company and the Voodoo operators that brought me to tears!
Morning After Effect: We are in the future!
You don't have to explain who King Kong is to most! The iconic character became a household name from his first appearance in the 1933 film starring Fay Wray (Ann Darrow). The innovative visual effects were ahead of their time, utilizing stop-motion animation, miniature sets, glass paintings, travelling mattes and full-scale practical creatures to create a realistic character that terrified audiences and stole their hearts. These techniques are now well-known and some severally outdated but it appears King Kong is driving innovation once again, this time on Broadway. However, King Kong is now a legendary story and has since inspired several movie remakes, most recently the 2010 release from Warner Brothers, Kong: Skull Island. So, how does a theatre company compete with a $185 million production (yes, you read that correctly)? Who would be mad enough to take on this challenge?
Cue Australian spectacle specialist Sonny Tilders (CEO and Creative Director of Creature Technology Company) who is famous for bringing realism to large-scale puppets coupled with Global Creatures. They are the masterminds behind the giant touring arena characters (Walking with Dinosaurs and How to Train Your Dragon) and spent ten years developing Kong. Weighing in at 2400 pounds and stands 20ft tall, Kong is a high-tech puppet using traditional puppetry strings. He requires 10 live operators who swing from rigging ropes and have been titled King's Company. Their movements are synchronized and sleek and there is an air of rebellion, entitlement, grandeur. King's Company is not merely moving the puppet, they are moving the audience as they breathe life into this beast. They become the pulse, the pain, and the tenderness that lures your imagination in until you truly believe this silverback is alive. Off stage are three voodoo operators who manipulate Kong's hips, shoulders, neck, head, and facial expressions by way of joysticks and pedals that control the hydraulics and motors. This level of sophistication further enhances the emotional journey we experience with Kong and Curt James' voice is the cherry on top! There is a depth to Kong that one has to see to believe, his emotional range is astounding and these puppeteers have set a new standard of excellence with this animatronic technology.
Director and Choreographer Drew McOnie (In The Heights) requested that King's Company incorporate female puppeteers. Because of this we feel a deeper connection to King Kong who owns both his masculine and feminine energy. He becomes a fully rounded emotional being who hopes for love and respect despite being seen as a monster to exploit. Another appropriate update is Ann Darrow (played by Christiani Pitts) who is no longer a screaming damsel in distress but rather a fearless woman hungry for a success but not at the downfall of her humanity. Pitts brings this character alive with spunk and sass letting the world know she will not be treated like a puppet. As Kong and Darrow form a bond we are reminded of the importance to respect each other's differences and our primitive need for freedom. Only once we cut the strings and trust that the ground will meet us will we see change.
Prepare to be amazed and get your tickets to see this production!
View our show pages for more information about King Kong, Broadway Theater.