“Seasons of Ape-Human Love”? “Seventy-Six Fighter Planes”? “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going (to Climb Down the Empire State Building)”? These made-up songs will not appear in a new musical based on the classic 1933 film King Kong – but the show itself is very much real. According to a press release, Kong is set to premiere in June 2013 at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
The musical’s book was written by Tony Award nominee Craig Lucas, who also penned the script for The Light in the Piazza. Its score is studded with both refurbished Depression-era tunes and original material by contemporary artists including Sarah McLachlan, Justice, Massive Attack’s Robert del Naja, and The Avalanches’ Guy Garvey. Producer Marius deVries will oversee Kong’s music; he’s being credited as the show’s “composer and arranger.”
Though Kong’s entire cast has not yet been announced, Australian actors Esther Hannaford, Adam Lyon, and Chris Ryan will star as Ann Darrow (originally played by Fay Wray), Carl Denham (originally played by Robert Armstrong), and Jack Driscoll (originally played by Bruce Cabot), respectively. These roles were reinterpreted by Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrien Brody in Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong remake.
“It’s tempting to focus on the spectacle of King Kong himself,” director Daniel Kramer said in a statement. “But it is only through the humanity of the life around him – the people of New York City, the comic megalomania of filmmaker Carl Denham, the stubborn opposition of first mate Jack Driscoll, and the grace, beauty and power of our leading lady, Ann Darrow – that he truly takes life.”
Then again, the show certainly won’t be short on spectacle – altogether, it will feature “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-ton, six-meter giant silverback.”
Due to its enormous scale, the production won’t tour Australia, New Zealand, or the world at large – so if you want to see that one-ton puppet in action, you’ll have to trek to Melbourne. Just don’t be tempted to make a detour to Skull Island; it’s not nearly as inviting as the name implies.