Don’t tell the husband, but I have a massive crush on a giant gorilla. My crush is 20 feet tall and weighs 2,000 pounds. He has soft brown eyes that can make you melt and a roar that can set you back, but leave you wanting more. Despite his heft, he is quite nimble, can run at a fearsome pace, climb tall buildings, and fend off serpent attacks. He is the dark, strong and silent type. I love him and would happily watch him perform on Broadway any day of the week. Of course, I am referring to King Kong and all his majesty on stage at the Broadway Theater.
Wasn’t sure how I would feel about this show when I sat down in my seat with my friend Phoebe, who was visiting from Charleston. I was worried it would be hokey and gimmicky and that, my guy, King Kong would be forced and stiff. It was none of this. Talk about a scene stealer! Any time Kong was on that stage I could not take my eyes off of him. The actress, Christiani Pitts, playing Ann Darrow observed that she needed to kick up her thespian game to go toe to toe with the acting prowess of this animatronic ape. If I were a Tony voter I would vote for him!
To operate my new crush, it takes 14 performers fondly referred to as The King’s Company and 16 microprocessors. This will make our first date complicated and crowded. 🙂 As his largesse necessitates, when he is not captivating the audience he is hoisted out of the audience’s view, just above the action that is transpiring on stage. For such a big fellow his stealthy arrivals were that much more impressive. He would practically float into view and then poof disappear into the ceiling on command. It is artistry personified to see these talented artists bring this animal to life for the audience.
These artists embrace a form of Japanese puppetry called: bunraku. We can see these magic makers as they contort and operate this beast through the duration of the show. But your brain takes over and it is just the grand ape your eyes focus on, not the artists working in tandem to infuse it with a powerful life force. The scene when Ann sings her captor to sleep would melt even the coldest heart. Happily our heroine is not prone to rampant terrified screaming like her predecessors, but chooses to relate to her captor and appreciate and love his powerful being. She also delivers some pretty funny one-liners that had the audience chuckling often as she engaged Kong in a one sided tete a tete.
All of this AND there is some mighty fine dancing on stage, a wonderful set and costumes and a multimedia integration that is next level implementation. How thrilling to embark on a sea voyage from the harbor of New York City to the foreboding Skull Island in the comfort of my theater chair. This show is firing on all cylinders at all moments. You may have already surmised this, but I am grabbing my group and going back to see my main man King Kong in all his puppetry glory. I have placed a King King size order for January 27th. Who’s with me?? Maybe you will fall in love too? Phoebe said she will come back to town special for the show and bring her family. Let’s fill the place up! I should hear back from my ticket guy next week. Fingers crossed he can score us a boatload.
Sidenote: This is a family show for families with kids that won’t wilt or burst into tears when King Kong erupts onto the stage all growling and snarling. There is no foul language and it is a great, though oft told story with multiple compelling messages. I am a terrible gauge for this, but I think children of 8 and up would be fine if they are brave and not overly sensitive (things don’t end well for my new boyfriend). If your kids can withstand the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz then I think they are good for this show. How is that for a dated metric?