Sunday, July 21, 2013


Have to say that I really enjoyed the King Kong stage production at Melbourne's majestic old Regent Theatre yesterday. I'm no connoisseur of musical theatre (I don't think I recognised a single name in the souvenir booklet), but I thought the show was a stunning achievement, at least from a technical point of view - the enormous Kong marionette was revealed for the first time superbly, slowly emerging from the shadows at the back of the stage while Ann Darrow dangles helplessly from her sacrificial altar. The natives of Skull Island were also depicted ingeniously, with lasers bouncing off reflective costumes to make them look like ghostly holograms (and no doubt helped the producers avoid any PC backlash if they tried depicting them like the traditional 1930s Hollywood natives). The fight between Kong and the giant snake was another high point, as was the rear projection lights and sound effects used to depict the attack by the bi-planes on Kong at the climax (it was minimalist but very effective). Kong's roar was incredibly loud (even his breathing reverberated around the theatre).

The songs, for the most part, were pretty generic, but they served their purpose and I enjoyed the way most of them were presented visually. A couple of the slower songs I found to be duds that bogged the flow of the show down a bit, while I thought there were two show numbers that really impressed - one with a burlesque edge (accompanied by the requisitely-clad dancers, of course), the other was the opening number of the second half, a great piece of rousing 42nd St. razzle dazzle that reminded me (in a nice way) of the 1976 film remake.

King Kong might be Broadway for the masses, but as a piece of local entertainment it achieves what it sets out to do with remarkable aplomb and plenty of bombast. If you grew-up like me loving old monster movies, how can you not dig seeing a six-metre tall Kong roaring and stomping about right before your eyes? I would easily sit through this again before I would try to endure re-watching Peter Jackson's woeful film remake from a few years ago...