King Kong on Broadway

I have not read a professional review of this show that we saw last night, so I’m winging it here. Officially, it is still in “previews,” with the full opening set for November 8.

Judging from the audience reactions, and our own, the show was extraordinary in at least one major respect. The stagecraft was over the top. Of course, there was Kong himself. An amazing achievement to bring to life a 20-foot, 2,000 pound (seemed much bigger) gorilla on a stage. But there were a number of others that blew the audience away. I won’t give them away here.

On the slightly negative side, and this is largely just personal taste, the songs were not particularly memorable. We heard nothing that will be in long term memory to evoke the other responses to the show. I was distracted a bit by the “modernity” of the leading lady’s voice. To be sure, Christiani Pitts gave a lot of heart and energy to her role as Ann Darrow, the aspiring actress picked off the streets by the dastardly Carl Denham as the bait to lure Kong from his lair on Skull Island. Her voice was clear and strong throughout and playing the love interest of a giant gorilla has to be a challenge for anyone. Some of her language and mannerisms just seemed out of sync with the 1930s in which the story takes place. Moreover, I don’t know how this “issue” could have been cured by choosing another performer. All that aside, she deserved the standing ovation she received at the end. So did Kong and his “handlers.”

In any case, the staging of this show is over the top and that will be remembered for a long time. The action, especially during the first half, was fast-moving and captivating. I was actually surprised when the intermission arrived at about the one-hour mark.

One more thing; if you’re thinking of taking a child to see this show (minimum posted age is only 4), you should prepare the child for the ending. It seems to take a long time to bring off the violent, inevitable and tragic conclusion to the tale. Knowing what is going to happen doesn’t make it easier to watch.

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