Eddie Perfect Responds to KING KONG Musical's Critics

Following the new KING KONG musical's debut at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne this weekend, The Age's Cameron Woodhead wrote an article titled, "Don't let critics' squabbling detract from Kong's extraordinary majesty". The piece talks about the fact that "Kong received an enthusiastic standing ovation on opening night although the critical response so far has been fairly consistent, praising the fabulous puppetry and high-tech design, while pointing to expositional and musical problems." Woodhead's piece is a call to see past reviews and look upon the musical as "ambitious new work" with potential.

In response to Woodhead's comments, Australian theatre star Eddie Perfect took to Facebook, saying: "I agree with Cameron [Woodhead], and I'd add something further. There's a convenient narrative springing up online (and elsewhere) that the creator's of Kong spent five years of developmental resources on the gorilla but neglected the book, music and lyrics. Without putting it too harshly, I think that's idiotic."

He continued: "I also think it's a dangerously false narrative because it takes what I believe is a truly interesting score and book, one that is innovative, risk-taking and almost in an entirely new music theatre language, and sidelines it as 'underdeveloped'. What that does is allow people to ignore or disregard something they don't immediately understand- something which I find pretty lazy, to be honest. Kong could have been conventional in its book, music and lyrics but it's not. I think it's really important for the audience to sit with something unique and consider why it is the way it is- consider it the vision of a group of theatre-makers..."

Perfect concluded: "It's the freshest, most interesting and awe-inspiring thing I've seen on stage. I've never seen anything like it. I have had amazing nights in the theatre with musical works that have stayed with me forever, but Kong is kind of different again. I'll be going again, I'm sure. It's something Melbourne can really be proud of, and an exceptional achievement in the theatre. Get along, you'd be crazy not to."

As BroadwayWorld previously reported, KING KONG is already casting its eye towards Broadway, with a hopeful launch as early as 2014. The production, which was originally slated to run through July 28, has just extended through August 18.

Composer and arranger Marius de Vries, whose credits include the soundtracks for Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet as well as being the writer/arranger/producer for artists such as Madonna, Bjork and Rufus Wainwright, will create and oversee a musical adventure to match that of the story: from revamped 1930s Broadway classics like 'Get Happy', 'I Wanna Be Loved By You' and 'Brother Can You Spare a Dime', to new and existing songs from some of the world's best contemporary artists, including Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack, Sarah McLachlan, Justice, Guy Garvey from Elbow and The Avalanches. A key collaborator on the musical landscape for the show has been Stephen Pavlovic from Modular People, the Sydney-based music label and promoter, while New York's Michael Mitnick has contributed lyrics to several new compositions.

The principal cast features Esther Hannaford (Hairspray) as Ann Darrow, newcomer Adam Lyon as Carl Denham, Chris Ryan (Thyestes) as Jack Driscoll, veteran stage actor Richard Piper as Captain Engelhorn and the queen of musical theatre and cabaret, Queenie van de Zandt as Cassandra.

One of the world's great modern myths about an enormous creature and his battle for survival in New York City, KING KONG has gone back to the source - the novella of the original film by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace - in this world-first adaptation as a large-scale musical. Featuring a cast of 49 actors, singers, dancers, circus performers and puppeteers; a crew of 76; and arguably the most technologically advanced puppet in the world - a one-tonne, six-metre giant silverback - KING KONG will be an epic and dazzlingly original theatrical experience.

Photo courtesy of Rob Banks/Fairfaxphotos.

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