Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Saturday, 15 June 2013
King Kong, June 15, 2013****
Book by Craig Lucas; Original music by Marius De Vries
Other songs: 3D
from Massive Attack, Guy Garvey, Sarah McLachlan, Justice, The Avalanches;
additional lyrics by Michael Mitnick, Richard Thomas; presented by Global
Creatures Regent Theatre, Melbourne, no closing date Reviewer:
Kate Herbert on June 15 Stars: ****
Review of opening night June 15 also published online in Herald Sun June 15 and on Sunday June 16 in print. KH
Photo by Joe Calleri
King Kong first emerges from the dim mists of SkulI Island, roaring and beating
his chest, he has the audience gaping in awe.
six-metre Kong is the runaway star of this new musical and the most fully
developed character on stage because of his expressive, almost human face, imposing
physicality, majesty and grace.
is heartbreaking to witness such a magnificent – albeit mechanical – creature
chained, tranquillised then exhibited as a freak show.
to his creators (designer, Sonny Tilders) and operators (puppetry director,
Peter Wilson), Kong lives, breathes and communicates; he roars with unfettered
rage, complains, grieves, is jealous, wretched, combative, childish or
his on-stage and off-stage operators get rousing applause for their feats of
athletic puppetry and animatronic operation.
big-budget, global premiere is an eye-popping spectacle designed to appeal to
21st century audiences that demand relentless action, colour and movement
in their entertainment.
cast is superlative and Esther Hannaford is perfectly beguiling and quirky as Ann
Darrow, the reluctant heroine, evolving from a gauche, country gal into an
assertive woman risking her life to save Kong.
and Kong’s rapport is central to this show’s success and director, Daniel
Kramer, effectively shapes their connection into a genuinely poignant,
heartfelt and credible relationship.
versatile voice is pretty and warm singing the mellow, memorable Full Moon
Lullaby to soothe the injured Kong, and the sweet, striking ballad, What’s It
Gonna Take, but she is hilariously feisty leading the sassy chorus of Hollywood
babes in Special FX.
Ryan is an ideal foil for Hannaford as Jack Driscoll, the dashing sailor who romances
her in the nostalgic, Fred and Ginger-style Fox Trot, and his pure tenor has
passion and trepidation singing In the Face of Forever, about Jack’s fear of falling.
Photo by Joe Calleri
Lyon is bold and funny as rapacious Hollywood director, Carl Denham, and his
voice is impressive in the rock anthem, Colossus.
Van De Zandt is thrilling singing Rise, a soaring tune that charts Kong’s climb
up the Empire State.
many elaborate chorus numbers (choreography, John O’Connell; acrobatics, Gavin
Robins) including Hunting Season, a Busby Berkeley routine, are vibrant and
songs must advance story and illuminate characters and, although Marius De
Vries’ compositions are rousing and diverse, and individual songs by
contemporary artists have a distinctive flavour, the repertoire lacks a
consistent voice and unified vision.
story (Craig Lucas) gallops at a giddy pace for 45 minutes until Kong appears, with
one huge chorus scene chasing another, and lacklustre dialogue does not enhance
characters and relationships.
bold, modern design (Peter England), complex laser lighting (Peter Mumford) and
projections (Frieder Weiss) create an intricate landscape but, with so much stage
action and overwhelming visual stimulus, some scenes are overwrought, busy and
the production is a triumph of state-of-the-art technology, only time and
public reaction will determine whether King Kong the musical can achieve the
cult status of the classic 1933 movie upon which it is based.