It's hard to be in Melbourne and not be aware that something big is about to take place. There are signs on trams and bus stops, billboards and flags lining the streets. The Regent Theatre already looks prepared for opening night of this world premiere musical event. Yes, something very big is indeed about to take place: King Kong. But, in a very cleverly mapped out publicity campaign very few people have actually seen the biggest star himself. He's 6 metres tall, weighs 1.1 tonne and is the world's most advanced puppet.
In fact the word puppet seems almost inept at describing King Kong. He is a combination of animatronic and marionette. He moves with the aid of Kings Men who deftly help move him into position, assisted by off stage technical crew controlling further movements in the way you would use a Wii game controller. Despite the clearly visible strings attached Global Creatures have created a puppet that brings an incredible sense of realism. His facial expressions are extraordinary. His breathing is remarkably life like. And his roar will shake the foundations of the theatre.
The facts and figures are quite remarkable: 65 tonnes of steel were used to construct the set and equipment, 300 metres of electrical cable are located within the gorilla who us padded out further with air bags and bean bag beads. 15 motors control his exquisite facial expressions which will have the audience mesmorised. The cast and crew have spent an unprecedented six weeks in technical rehearsals to ensure the intricate choreography flows seamlessly.
King Kong is puppetry on a whole new level in a musical that has been 5 years in the making. It promises to redefine the way we see theatre. Today the world will get it's first look at King Kong in a special report to be aired on Australian television's Sunday Night program on Channel 7. Tomorrow morning the media will finally meet King Kong face to face. Expect a media frenzy as they leave the theatre – just a day before the very first public preview performance which will play to a nearly full house. A further three weeks of previews will ensure everything is perfectly fine tuned in time for the world premiere opening night on Saturday 15th June.
Yes, prepare to be amazed Melbourne … prepare to be amazed world: King Kong is ready for his debut.
Photo: James Morgan