A musical version of King Kong is in the works, featuring a book by Craig Lucas, the Tony-nominated librettist of the couldn’t-be-more-different The Light in the Piazza. Bankrolled by Global Creatures, the Australian company behind the arena spectacular Walking with Dinosaurs, King Kong–Live on Stage is aiming for a Broadway bow in 2013. No casting has been set.
In addition to Lucas, whose plays include Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless, The Dying Gaul and Blue Window, the King Kong musical will feature new music and period songs arranged by Grammy nominated composer and producer Marius de Vries and will be directed by theater and opera vet Daniel Kramer.
Authorized by the estate of King Kong creator Merian C. Cooper, the new musical will feature a cast of more than 40 actors, singers, dancers and puppeteers and feature projections and state-of-the-art animatronics. This “beauty and the beast” love story between a woman and a giant ape begins in 1933 in New York City at the height of the Depression, but the new production aims to “preserve the classic story yet look at it through a contemporary cultural lens,” according to a statement from producer Carmen Pavlovic.
The creative team for King Kong includes Peter England (production design), Sonny Tilders (creature design), John O’Connell (choreography), Roger Kirk (costume design), Peter Mumford (lighting design), Gavin Robins (aerial/circus direction), and Frieder Weiss (projection design).
The production announcement emphasizes designer Tilders’ background an animatronic engineer for Jim Henson’s Creature workshop, plus work on Star Wars: Episode III and The Chronicles of Narnia. “We are making huge leaps from what we created for the Dinosaurs,” he said in a statement. “King Kong is the key character who will have to command the stage and act alongside actors. When he scratches his nose, for instance, it will have to be done in one fluid, controlled motion where all the muscles up his arm will move at once and he has enough control not to accidentally punch a hole in his face!''
Craig Lucas explained his involvement with what is sure to be a mega-budget musical, saying in a statement, “I am thrilled to be part of this project, working with a team of world-class colleagues, a producing dynamo, on a myth that speaks to man's precarious relation to the natural world, poised as we are right now between annihilation and a slim chance of salvation.”