We made our way inside the newly fitted Regent Theatre this morning for a glimpse of Global Creatures’ latest masterpiece – a six metre, 1.1 tonne puppet called Kong – in an incredible display of engineering, strength and creativity.
For the foreseeable future, Melbourne’s Regent Theatre will be home to the epic new theatrical spectacular King Kong, and with production values like these, there is little doubt this show is going to be huge. Part marionette, animatronic and puppet, Kong is is entirely Melbourne-made and now 80 years after the original Merian C. Cooper movie premiered, he is ready to hit the stage along with a cast of 50 actors, singers, dancers, circus performers and puppeteers.
Upon exiting the theatre this morning, photographer Belinda Strodder gave the production this wonderful testimonial:
“In my 25 odd years involved with theatre I have NEVER seen anything like this! The brilliance in design and complexity of puppetry techniques combine to produce a visual masterpiece. I was actually scared!”
Leading lady Esther Hannaford performed ‘Full Moon Lullaby’ with Kong, and puppetry designer Sonny Tilders took the media through some of the special ways in which Kong’s ‘Kingsmen’ brought this incredible puppet to life. The detail of Kong’s facial expression, seen here in our photo feature, is delivered by 15 industrial servo motors (of NASA Mars rovers fame) and 2 hydraulic cylinders, all controlled by an off-stage ‘Voodoo’ puppet operator. Kong’s eyebrows, nose, upper lip, lower lip, jaw, corners of the mouth and upper and lower eyelids are all able to be manipulated in real time, giving him a subtlety of expression normally reserved for high-end film animatronics, and never seen on stage before.
Some Facts About King Kong
• Kong is made of of steel, aluminum, lycra and latex
• Inside Kong there are 300 metres of electrical cable, 1500 connections and
16 microprocessors. Kong even has his own on-board hydraulic power with a
liquid cooled quiet pump.
• On top of his core chassis, Kong has a layer of air-powered muscles that give
him a lightweight body form. Over the top of that are a series of highly
sculptured muscled bags that stretch and contract as Kong moves.
• There have been two full-sized Kong prototypes before the final ‘sculpturallook’ Kong appearing at the Regent Theatre.
Previews commence tomorrow ahead of an opening night on June 15. For more information and tickets, visit kingkongliveonstage.com