Broadway Theatre, New York
Reviewed by Jade Prince
Seen June 4th, 2019
King Kong appears to have not taken the crown this Broadway season after announcing its final performance will take place on August 18th 2019. It has been a competitive season with film to musical adaptations dominating The Great White Way.
Unlike the other film to musical shows, King Kong had the upper hand. A unique, out of this world way of bringing the legendary Kong to the stage. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to ensure a longer run.
Following the story of the film with the same title, King Kong takes you on board the filming voyage from New York to Skull Island. Unbeknownst to the cast and crew, they had just invaded the king of the jungle’s territory. An unlikely bond is forged between the lead actress Ann Darrow (Christiani Pitts however at this performance we had a cover, Lissa DeGuzman) on the film shoot and Kong.
The plot and script were the biggest downfall. It fell completely flat. However, King Kong has an advantage because everything else is done to such a high standard, the audience are willing to forgive the lack of plot. I know that I was. The audience is so entranced in Kong himself that the story takes a backseat. I’m inclined to say it’s a blessing for the show.
Even before we laid eye on Kong, the audience witnessed a stunning transition on stage. In the midst of wonderful choreography, the back of the stage elevated to create the bow of the ship. Something I was not expecting! I had heard of the boat scene prior to seeing the show. In fact, reviewer Mark had seen the show and commented on this. He admitted it made him feel a little nauseous which I completely understand now! I was towards the rear of the orchestra, safely in row U but I can see why people would feel that way when sitting close to the stage. Especially with no fixed features in their peripheral vision.
The direction of the show was stunning with the pinnacle being the huge revealing of Kong. I really appreciated how it was a gradual introduction and not a sudden thing for the audience. The suspense was meticulously crafted. The auditorium fell silent. The sound was incredible, and you felt as if you were right there in the cave. I really lost it when the teeth became visible. The gradual reveal was almost too much to handle! I will never forget my friend looking over at me and laughing because my mouth was wide open, and I was edging further forward in my seat. She had seen the show before and knew what to expect however for me, I really felt like a little kid. Very rarely do you find theatre which makes you feel that way.
As previously mentioned, we were lucky enough to see a cover in the role of Ann Darrow. Lissa DeGuzman had a gorgeous stage presence. I can’t imagine how daunting it would be to share the stage with Kong. It would be so easy to be upstaged and cast into the shadows however DeGuzman did a fabulous job of drawing the focus to herself to avoid this. They were able to share the stage harmoniously and really complimented each other.
The puppetry control of Kong was mind-blowing! Props to the design team and team operating Kong during the show! Every single one of you reminded me why theatre is so special. It is moments like that that make it.
All in all, the technical side of this show completely outweighed the lack of story. It truly is a stunning piece and I urge you to see it!
With a little over a month left of its run, head to https://kingkongbroadway.com/index.php for more information on the show and for tickets.