King Kong rules over Melbourne stage

After five years in the making, King Kong, Live on Stage, has opened at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.

Teams in the UK, US and Australia at Stage Technologies worked closely to supply the groundbreaking automation.

The show’s centrepiece, the six- metre, one tonne King Kong puppet, was designed by Global Creature Workshop.

The package includes over 12 tonnes of steelwork, motors, winches, and cable management systems, which give the colossal gorilla puppet its sweeping movements, enabling it to lift, rotate and travel up, down and across the stage.

The onboard winches control the height and rotation of the body, and all- ow Kong to fly in, leap, gallop and stand. Early on in the process, Stage Technologies mocked up a previsualisation that served to communicate the puppet’s movements to the various production departments.

Then, a ‘baseline’ plot for motion was programmed into the Acrobat desk, to which the puppeteers could add live embellishments and react in real time with the actors on the stage.

The King Kong, Live on Stage show requires collaboration between the entire team of Kong operators: ‘Kings Men’ (who handle the manual manipulation of Kong’s arms and legs); voodoo rig operators (the animatronic puppeteers); and the automation team in charge of the Stage Technologies system – a method that achieves an unprecedented six degrees of motion.

Directed by Daniel Kramer, the musical stars Esther Hannaford and Chris Ryan.