Australia’s ‘King Kong’ Is Bound for Broadway, a Bit Late but Just as Big


The production has spent the intervening years rethinking how to design a show in which the leading character — Kong — neither speaks nor sings. (He does make sounds, voiced in real time by an actor.)

“King Kong” scene with pre-visualisation and overlay of Stage Technologies trolley Video by Stage Technologies

“Originally, we were imagining a buffed and polished version of what we had in Australia, but something wasn’t clicking, like our puppet was in the middle of someone else’s show,” Ms. Pavlovic said. “We came to a realization of how we could take the physicality of Kong and make it feel like the whole show was born of that idea — we were finding a form that would better tell King Kong’s story.”

The project now has a British writer — Jack Thorne, enjoying enormous success with the Broadway-bound play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — and a British director, Drew McOnie, who has choreographed recent London productions of “In the Heights” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Both are new to the project; a series of American theater talents — the book writers Craig Lucas and Marsha Norman and the composer Jason Robert Brown — were each replaced over the years.

The show has had one constant: the gorilla, which is powered by a combination of automation, infrared technology and multiple human performers (“Kong’s army”) who bring the creature to life. Ms. Pavlovic is the chief executive of the animatronics company, Global Creatures, best known for arena shows like “Walking With Dinosaurs.” Global Creatures is co-producing the “King Kong” stage show with Roy Furman, a Broadway veteran.

“King Kong” will feature a score by the British composer Marius de Vries, who has been with the project from the beginning, and songs by Eddie Perfect, an Australian musician who is a more recent addition to the team. The story is adapted from a novelization of the screenplay of the 1933 film.

“It isn’t a conventional musical but it certainly still has all the elements of a musical — there is a full orchestra, there are people singing, but there are also great tracks of lyricless score,” Ms. Pavlovic said.

The show has not yet been cast.

The Broadway Theater is now home to a revival of “Miss Saigon,” which has scheduled a limited run through January and is then planning to tour.

The arrival of “King Kong” would make 2018 a big year for blockbuster brands on Broadway: Disney’s stage adaptation of “Frozen” and the Harry Potter play are both scheduled to arrive that spring, just a few months before “Kong.” Ms. Pavlovic said she was confident in the continuing appeal of the Kong brand, noting the success of the recent film “Kong: Skull Island,” and said that she believed that the character of Ann Darrow, whose initial abduction by Kong leads to an emotional relationship that has been repeatedly reimagined over the years, was appealing as “a modern-day female protagonist.”

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