THE biggest, boldest and most expensive musical theatre production ever created in Australia was officially unveiled yesterday in a media launch beamed live around the world, a full eight months before it opens.
The star of the show wasn't there - he is still in pieces in a workshop in West Melbourne - but the 200 or so people gathered in the Plaza Ballroom did get to meet the American director of the stage show King Kong and his five Australian non-simian leads, and to hear three songs from the original score. And judging by the sustained applause, they liked what they heard and saw.
''We've had King Kong in development for nearly five years now, chipping away at what will be one of the most ambitious productions to come out of Australia,'' said Carmen Pavlovic, boss of the production company Global Creatures.
Monster musical launch
The principal cast of 'King Kong', from left, Richard Piper, Adam Lyon, Esther Hannaford, Queenie van de Zandt and Chris Ryan. Photo: James Morgan
''The entire production has been conceived on a grand scale, combining puppetry, circus, projections and an amazing orchestral score. Our ambition ultimately is to roll this production out around the world. But first, Australia.''
The show will play at the Regent Theatre on Collins Street next June. The Victorian government is supporting the run, in the hope it will attract a significant number of visitors.
Global Creatures, which is based in Sydney (its animatronics arm, the Creature Technology Company, is based in Melbourne) came to prominence with its arena production Walking With Dinosaurs.
Kong is an attempt to marry the creature work for which it is famous with the lavish musical theatre productions on which Ms Pavlovic worked in Europe.
''We had a vision for a score that would travel through genre and time in a way that's contemporary and, I hope, redefining,'' Ms Pavlovic said yesterday, unveiling a line-up of music contributors that includes Robert del Naja of Massive Attack, Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, French electronica duo Justice, Australian mash-up artists the Avalanches and Marius deVries.
The cast includes Richard Piper as the captain of the ship that sails in search of Kong.
''It's an adventure, a thriller, a musical roller-coaster,'' said director Daniel Kramer.
King Kong opens on June 15, 2013. Tickets are on sale from October 22.