Last Thursday, I attended an Asian Press Night performance of the new musical King Kong starring Christiani Pitts (A Bronx Tale) as Ann Darrow, Eric William Morris (Mamma Mia!) as Carl Denham, and Erik Lochtefeld (Misery, Metamorphoses) as Lumpy, at the Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway). The Broadway production began previews on October 5, opened on November 8 and recently celebrated 100 performances.
Harmonia Holdings’ Global Director of Communications Ava Zhou moderated a talkback after the performance with Christiani Pitts, Eric William Morris, Erik Lochtefeld; ensemble members Christopher Hampton Grant, Eliza Ohman, Danny Miller, Lauren Yalango-Grant, Brittany Marcell Monachino, Jennifer Noble; and 4 of the 5 Asian American cast members Jon Hoche, Kristen Faith Oei, Warren Yang, David Yijae.
Special guests in the audience included Ken Dingledine (President of Harmonia), Jonathan Lowet (Senior Director for Leadership Initiatives, National Committee of US-China), Meredithe Mastrella (Vice President of Administration, National Committee of US-China Relations), James Heimowitz, Sophie Qi (CEO, Harmonia Holdings) and Mary Luke (President of US Committee for UN Women Metropolitan New York Chapter). The evening was presented in connection with Harmonia Holdings泓洋国际, a co-producer of King Kong and live entertainment producer and presenter on Broadway and in Asia.
Written by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) with a score by Marius de Vries (La La Land and Moulin Rouge!) and songs by Eddie Perfect (Beetlejuice), King Kong is directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie (Strictly Ballroom The Musical).
King Kong comes alive through an innovative mix of robotics, puppetry and stagecraft.
Based on the 1932 novel, the stage production of King Kong is a contemporary take on the classic tale of beauty and the beast. The story follows a young actress, Ann Darrow, and a maverick filmmaker, Carl Denham, as they voyage from the bustling streets of 1930s New York to an uncharted island to capture the world’s greatest wonder.
At the center of this 21st-century reimagining: a 20-foot high, 2,000-pound gorilla brought to life by a team of seamlessly integrated artists and technicians. Roaring with action, King Kong is a gripping and spectacular story of unlikely friendship, unshakable courage, and breaking free from the cages others put us into.
The diverse King Kong ensemble includes Ashley Andrews (Broadway Debut), Mike Baerga (Miss Saigon), Rhaamell Burke-Missouri (Broadway Debut, Cinderella National Tour), Chloë Campbell (Tuck Everlasting), Leroy Church (Broadway Debut, The Lion King National Tour), Peter Chursin (On The Town, West Side Story), Jovan Dansberry (Broadway Debut), Kayla Davion (Waitress), Rory Donovan (NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Finding Neverland), Casey Garvin (Miss Saigon, Disaster!), Christopher Hampton Grant (Broadway Debut), Jon Hoche (Broadway Debut, War Horse National Tour), Gabriel Hyman (Broadway Debut), Harley Jay (Rent). James T. Lane (The Scottsboro Boys, A Chorus Line), Marty Lawson (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; Promises, Promises), Jonathan Christopher MacMillan (War Horse), Danny Miller (Broadway Debut), Brittany Marcell Monachino (Broadway Debut), Jennifer Noble (Ghost The Musical), Kristen Faith Oei (M. Butterfly, The King and I), Eliza Ohman (Hamilton), Roberto Olvera (Broadway Debut), Jaquez André Sims (Motown The Musical), Khadija Tariyan (Broadway Debut, “The Wiz Live!,”), Jena VanElslander (Broadway Debut), Scott Austin Weber (M. Butterfly), Jacob Williams (Broadway Debut), Lauren Yalango-Grant (Broadway Debut), Warren Yang (Miss Saigon) and David Yijae (Broadway Debut).
Filipino American Jon Hoche is the voice of King Kong, an ensemble member and a voodoo puppeteer who controls Kong’s head and neck motions; Korean American David Yijae is part of the King’s Company; Chinese Canadian Warren Yang and Scott Austin Webber are swings.
Chinese American cast member and San Francisco native Kristen Faith Oei has appeared in the Broadway productions of M. Butterfly, The King and I and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. “I grew up singing with my parents and harmonizing in church with them,” shared Miss Oei. “They put me in dance as a really young child as well. Being from the Bay Area, I was very lucky to have many opportunities. I was fortunate that my parents were always encouraging me to pursue my dream and as a dancer, they knew time was of the essence. I was more concerned about going to college. I’ve performed since I was 18 and felt very lucky to do a lot of shows that have not just been Asian inspired shows, like King Kong.”
The show’s official website, show description at the theater, and show flyers have been translated into Simplified Chinese 简体中文, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Also, Gala Pro App is available in the theater, which allows for a patron to view subtitles on their phone in other languages including Simplified Chinese in real time. King Kong tickets are now available for purchase on major travel websites in China, including Ctrip, Mafengwo, Fliggy, Wannar, Klook, and more.
King Kong offers a digital lottery which is open for all Monday through Friday performances. A limited number of tickets are available for $49 each and are sold the day of the performance. To enter, visit KingKongLottery.com. An in-person rush is also available at the Broadway Theatre for all performances, including weekends. Seats may be partial view and are subject to availability.
Tickets to King Kong are now on sale through by phone at 212-239-6200 and online at www.Telecharge.com. Tickets for groups of ten or more are available by calling 866-302- 0995 or by email at email@example.com.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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