From its 1933 stop-motion animated incarnation to the CGI version of 2005, King Kong occupies a unique place in cinematic history. Now the giant ape is rumoured to be heading for its original home – as a War Horse-style puppet.
The story of King Kong’s encounter with an actress in 1930s New York has been adapted for the stage with a musical that opened in Melbourne last June and is due to end its run there on February 16, after being extended four times.
It features a 6m (20ft) tall silverback gorilla weighing 1.1 tonnes that combines animatronics and puppetry, operated by hydraulics, preset automation and manual manipulation. Designed by Global Creatures, who were behind the animatronics of stage extravaganzas Walking with Dinosaurs and How to Train Your Dragon, King Kong has proved such a hit that the show has garnered five Helpmann awards (the Australian equivalent of the Tony Awards).
One of King Kong’s producers, Gerry Ryan, told Melbourne radio station 3AW the musical would be opening on Broadway in December. "It [Broadway] is the theatre capital of the world and Kong is a natural fit in New York. They’re very excited to see the big monkey coming to town."
However, a subsequent statement from the producers suggests this might not be the case: "Plans for the Broadway production of King Kong are not confirmed at this time. We hope to have details about the future of the show shortly."