New York | 2h 25m | Open run

King Kong (NYC)

From 66 critic and 576 member reviews
Members say: Great staging, Ambitious, Entertaining, Disappointing, Clever

About the show

One of the world’s most epic modern myths comes to Broadway in this new musical that employs an innovative mix of robotics, puppet, and stagecraft to bring the legendary ape to life. More…

Follow an ambitious young actress and a maverick filmmaker as they voyage from the bustling streets of 1930s New York to an uncharted island to capture the greatest wonder the world has ever seen. At the center of this 21st-century reimagining: a 2,000-pound gorilla brought roaring to life by a team of seamlessly integrated artists and technicians. A larger-than-life encounter with a legend that’s always been too big to contain. Written by Jack Thorne ('Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'), directed and choreographed by Olivier Award winner Drew McOnie, with a new score by Marius de Vries ('La La Land') and Eddie Perfect ('Strictly Ballroom').  

Musical Theater Review

“The 20-foot-tall animatronic puppet of Kong is indeed a gasp-inducing marvel, but there’s plenty to admire elsewhere...Thorne’s script works hard at developing the tale’s mythic qualities...The orchestral scoring are richly ear-filling, heightening the mood and excitement at just about every turn...McOnie masterfully pulls all the elements together into one coherent and affecting piece of musical theatre storytelling...It’s a boldly conceived, legitimate piece of musical theatre.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“A visual feast...And it’s not all about the two-thousand pound gorilla in the room. Although his presence is magnificent, the entire production team has been touched by magic and the marvels start when the curtain rises...Unfortunately, the story is identical to the original movie and is still as weak and ridiculous...There’s a very endearing big gorilla with sad, expressive eyes who I guarantee you will fall in love with. And there’s amazing, innovative stagecraft. And that’s enough for me.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"This is the underlying strength of the production: The extreme ability of the creator and well-trained handlers to actually elicit a sense of emotion through a puppet and with a message...Christiani Pitts is a highly energized spitfire with a soaring voice and the huge cast is remarkable...Maybe it’s just good to have an old iconic story unite with a more contemporary touch and as a reminder at a time when kindness, caring, and gentility should be at the forefront of everyone’s agenda." Full Review

Philadelphia Inquirer

"A knockout of a show, managing to move us to sympathy, scare us, and dazzle us with stagecraft all at once. To praise the show as a 'musical' might be a slight exaggeration, since the songs aren’t much good — neither tuneful nor interesting — and the singers and dancers are only adequate. Which leaves us with the star of the show, King Kong, a stunning example of 'extreme puppetry'...I imagine that there will be those who scoff, but I had too much fun.” Full Review

New York Theater

"If this 'King Kong' resists camp, there are several savory moments of meta-theatrical wit...The songs by Eddie Perfect are an appealing, eclectic mix of jazz, Broadway ballad and pop, brought home by a talented ensemble executing some some catchy if standard Broadway choreography...Perfect’s songs are perfectly adequate, but I’ll go further: They are the right fit...The effort to bring that puppet to life is extraordinary, unprecedented, and the payoff is glorious." Full Review


"True, 'King Kong,' aside from its technical achievements-more of that below-probably won't wind up in theater history books as a major artistic advance, but it still has a lot to offer. It's no 'Dear Evan Hansen' or 'The Band's Visit' -two recent American musicals of high quality- and doesn't claim to be, but it's as entertaining as 'Head Over Heels' (if less tawdry) and 'The Prom' (if very much less show-bizzy self-referential)." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“An engrossing story about authentic relationships and a Broadway spectacle with impressive special effects...This ‘King Kong’ adds some interesting tweaks, ones that are empowering to Ann. And the special effects are breathtaking...This version has less cultural baggage...There are no ‘savage’ tribes nor is there the implicit racism in the Kong-Ann dynamic...A big step forward for empathy, for women’s empowerment, and for technical accomplishments in puppetry.” Full Review


“Stagecraft is king in 'Kong.' ‘Dramatic’ doesn’t even come close to conveying the startlingly original complexity of the rich visuals...And then there’s the Monster...Killer spectacle outshines wimpy dialogue that could use more linguistic rhythm and richness of wit...Despite its problems with dialogue, songs, lyrics, and details like the humanity issue, ‘King Kong’ is appealing and sometimes outstanding. I wouldn’t want to miss it.” Full Review


"Anyone complaining about the music in 'King Kong' is missing the point...Some of the most impressive stagecraft I have seen in years. At twenty feet and two thousand pounds, Kong is massive, towering over the stage while still registering subtle fluctuations in emotion through his brow, his nose, his upper lip. Of course, he roars, too, and thunderously so, but it's the level of detail at such a large scale that is most breathtaking." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Mr. Thorne has written the weakest part of the collaboration, but with all due respect it truly does not diminish the effort put forth since nothing new has been exposed since the original story and at its worst, some sequences are just frivolous and unnecessary...It is not a negative comment to admit that this incredible creature really does steal the show. This is an unprecedented spectacular event that is worthy of a Broadway stage." Full Review

New Yorker

“Kong is the show’s true star. He’s huge, muscular, and bottomlessly dark—all black and gray. His hands and feet are operated, in minutest detail, by a small, dancerly army, and his face moves via uncannily precise—and, I’ll admit, touching...There aren’t any instantly classic songs in the show, which makes it unlikely to be a long-lasting item of interest, but it’s fun simply because of Kong’s presence. The audience laughed and gasped...We whooped when he stood to his full height." Full Review

Limelight Magazine (AU)

"McOnie has done a remarkable job staging this blockbuster. The movement, in theory his specialty, is deeply rooted in character and frequently thrilling...And the monkey? Well, he’s as impressive as he ever was – perhaps even more so...Jack Thorne‘s dialogue is convincingly written – or as convincing as dialogue can be in a tale that demands a sizeable suspension of disbelief." Full Review


"One thrill ride of a show...The show disappoints in its mishmash of musical styles...You could say Kong has one of the best 11 o’clock numbers around when he approaches the apron of the stage to break through...There’s also more than a few cliches, and a set-up that’s a stretch...But Thorne also makes some smart choices...It’s not just the mammoth Kong that helps carry the show but also Pitts, who plays the marathon role of Ann with infinite resilience and resolve." Full Review

Daily Beast

"The problem with 'King Kong' is that the humans on stage do not know what to do when King Kong is elsewhere, and the production doesn’t know what to do with them either...As pure spectacle, 'King Kong' thrillingly delivers. The songs are fine rather than memorable and the story simple and fluent rather than dense and chewy. But really, neither has to do much more. This is all about the hulking, crouching, flying, not-very-hidden King Kong­—and the ape has totally got this." Full Review


"Mixes remarkable wizardry with musical theater imperfection, though it’s way better than most of the pretentious critics are letting on...The sets and projections by Peter England are darkly splashy, though the score doesn’t always soar and some dullness sets in before the ape appears. But then he does!...Take this for what it is—a tourist-friendly spectacle with some memorable monkey business." Full Review

On Stage Blog

“Kennedy: They were successful in making Kong into a real character, a performer in the show...Leininger: You get a rush of adrenaline when you see him move so fluidly...Kennedy: The show was technically masterful...Kennedy: The effects were amazing...Leininger: The music is forgettable." Full Review

JK's Theatre Scene

"For sheer entertainment value, 'King Kong' would get an A+ from me. It is exciting, thrilling, funny, and even a little scary. And that ape. Wow!...As a musical, it is both lacking and way too much...Thorne's book is both well-done and silly...The bottom line is I found myself both laughing with it and laughing at it. That said, there's much to appreciate here...Director Drew McOnie creates some truly spectacular stage pictures." Full Review


"The two-story, two-ton puppet star is a fearsome marvel...Generally speaking, when the ape’s onstage, flirting with his new friend Ann or battling a sickly snake, 'King Kong' rules. When he’s not, it’s a very occasionally inspired musical about a plucky star to be trying to make it in New York in the Depression. Director-choreographer Drew McOnie’s staging tends to clutter the production numbers." Full Review

Florida Theater On Stage

"'King Kong' is amazing, both the creature and the show. Its flaws and shortcomings as a musical are impossible to ignore, but as spectacle and entertainment, only someone who revels in dissing whatever is popular would deny that 'King Kong' is a jaw-dropping experience...This is not a E-ticket thrill ride, but a fine work of theatrical stagecraft and skill...The acting, directing, and the script...all are very much 21st Century...It just clashes distractingly with the time period." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"When Kong dominates the stage, or when he shares a scene with Christiani Pitts as Ann Darrow, the show's heroine, theatre magic is made. The ape's first appearance is a moment of pure excitement...The entire design/technology side of the production is a major achievement...About the rest of 'King Kong,' however, I have a few questions...You can't say 'King Kong' is a good musical, but it is a fascinating oddity." Full Review


"Say what you will about 'King Kong,' but it's nonstop entertainment, even when it's campier than a giant gorilla at a rave. It's actually impressive how book writer Jack Thorne managed to take an already ridiculous story and make it goofier through halfhearted feints at social relevance...Gavin Robins has masterfully directed an immediate team of 10 puppeteers who surround Kong...In a story devoid of heroes, these fearless performers come the closest." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"There are tremendous failures within the show, and although the mechanics astound, the overall journey, as directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie is a shipwreck, leaving us slightly stunned and slack-jawed, washed up on the shore saddened by the destruction around us...The music, lyrics, and story, in general are far from perfect, descending into something surprisingly flat footed...When King Kong arrives, we rejoice, as we are finally given a reason to pay attention." Full Review


"De Vries' ponderous score is a mish-mash of styles but it does have its moments, Perfect's songs are tuneful but hardly memorable; neither do they do much to further the story...The effort to extend Kong's long symbolic parallels to racism, slavery and colonialism to our current society's endorsement of racism and greed feels forced and clunky, whereas the presentation of the giant marionette puppet is amazingly original and genuinely entertaining." Full Review

Stage Left

“The topline takeaway of ‘King Kong’ the dazzling stagecraft...What this show irrefutably nails is the scale and scope of its stagecraft...What it clearly misses is a show strong enough to support that stagecraft, and any critical depth or address of 85 years of discussion about the meaning of its source material...The attempt, by this all male-creative team, to remake Ann as a feminist icon is as transparent as it is poorly executed.” Full Review

City Cabaret

“While the gorilla himself is fantastic, the musical is hardly razzle-dazzle. A giant of stagecraft and puppetry, ‘King Kong’ is the star in this spectacle...As a largely sung-through musical, ‘King Kong’ disappoints with colorless songs and repetitive dashes of hip-hop and athletic jitterbug...Pitts and Morris are capable, if not memorable in their sketchy roles...both fine singers. Watching the gorilla, however, is the wonder of this show and with the technology, Kong is the only star.” Full Review

Intelligent, Must see, Ambitious, Great acting, Clever

See it if enjoy musicals and especially well-done musicals. I went to King Kong with the thought "well I don't know" BUT it is one of the best

Don't see it if you are afraid to see gorillaz.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging, Refreshing

See it if You enjoyed the original story and love the use of puppetry in a full scale Broadway show.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy loud noises or have trouble with flashing lights.

Also I would love to see this again and can't wait to hear the announcement... Read more Read less

Great singing, Great staging, Must see, Riveting, Absorbing

See it if You love a great Broadway show with an amazing leading actress/singer, stunning staging, absorbing score and effects never seen on stage.

Don't see it if You do t like Broadway’s shows.

Also I was t expecting much from this show and it completely blown me away.... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing

See it if See this show if you like intricate and amazing sets, contemporary music, and amazing performers!

Don't see it if You dont like strobe lights, loud booming music, intense gut-wrenching story's.

Magnificent entertainment

See it if You want to see creative choreography, terrific sets, and the best gorilla puppet in the world. This is a highly entertaining show!

Don't see it if You do not like to see animals hurt. The puppet has such soulful eyes that I had to keep reminding myself that it was not real.

Absorbing, Clever, Dizzying, Edgy, Great acting

See it if There are no words to describe how good this show is a must watch.

Don't see it if If you don’t like live Thearter then stay at home please

Epic, Intense, Mesmerizing, Profound, Enchanting

See it if you want to go on the rollercoaster ride of your life! This show has you holding on to the edge of your seats. The puppeteers are amazing!

Don't see it if you are more focused on the lyrical content of the show than the masterpiece-- Kong!

Fluffy, Excruciating, Quirky, Raunchy

See it if You enjoy gorillas

Don't see it if You like gorillas

Absorbing, Entertaining, Intense, Must see, Riveting

See it if You like imaginative musicals, fun, keeps you on the edge of your seat!

Don't see it if If you can’t handle loud noises. If a big huge gorilla scares you!

Great staging, Must see, Ambitious, Entertaining, Amazing ape!

See it if can check all expectations at the door and are willing to go along for this magnificent ride. Don’t miss this ape!

Don't see it if’re bitter, beyond jaded, you can’t overlook a weak book and you want to remember at least one song when you’re walking out the door.

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great singing, Must see

See it if you want to experience a thoroughly enjoyable evening on Broadway. The technology employed for this show is amazing. I will see it again.

Don't see it if you're not looking for a joyous evening.

Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing

See it if You love darker shows or the story of King Kong or are interested to experience King Kong on stage.

Don't see it if Dislike puppetry or the story of King Kong, or are sensitive to loud roaring sounds.

Also I absolutely loved this show. Saw it twice and the second time was fro... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Epic, Intense, Riveting, Masterful

See it if You love amazing productions that will absorb you into a real life action movie

Don't see it if You like classical broadway productions

Absorbing, Entertaining, Must see, Great staging

See it if You want to be amazed by a gigantic ape puppet, want to be entertained, want a show the whole family will enjoy,

Don't see it if You don’t like loud noise or lights, not a fan of king king, want a more traditional misical

Also I loved loved loved this show, King Kong is the star of the show and i... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Great staging, Riveting, Resonant, Intense

See it if you love stagecraft and the magic of theatre. If you want an experience. If you want to be blown away.

Don't see it if if you don't like spectacle and want instead a deep story. It's a simple story with heart, but the stagecraft is the best part.

Entertaining, Great staging, Clever, Great singing, Must see

See it if you enjoy spectacle theater and want to see amazing puppetry and animatronics like you have never seen before. Simply astonishing!!!!

Don't see it if ... No reason not to see it. Worth seeing for the staging and puppetry alone.

Must see, Absorbing, Fast paced, Poignant, But....

See it if You have any wonder in your soul. Beautifully paced often edge of your seat. A heartbreaking Kong... and a breathtaking set and staging.

Don't see it if unfortunately everything else really sucked. I wish that it wasn't a musical. Lots of music and sound effects: good banal songs: bad .

Also And not an actor on stage had any charm for me. Seriously; strained rh... Read more Read less

Technologically perfect, true spectacle

See it if Marvel at ingenuity .... incredible technology (score 100) , everything else is less impressive, but so what!

Don't see it if Looking for a textbook musical.

Epic, Must see, Great staging

See it if You want to see a grandiose production of a classic story! The staging was incredible and the music was gorgeous.. it complimented the plot.

Don't see it if Go see it! I think you will be impressed st every aspect of this production!!

Must see, Underrated, Unlikely diamond in the rough, Entertaining, Solid musical theatre

See it if you miss full B'way shows that don’t cut corners. Made to wow new audiences, not stubbornly defend out of touch values of bygone eras.

Don't see it if you prefer the 1930s & dislike adaptations—particularly ones taking a critical look at the originals & acknowledging modern sensibilities.

Also It’s inexplicable that critics who faintly praised an insipidly retrog... Read more Read less

Great staging, Ambitious, Clever, Entertaining

See it if For the technology, choreography and the message

Don't see it if You just don't want to sit through the story

Clever, Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing

See it if You want to see a new improved version of the King Kong story. See it if you what to see a stunning, fast moving production.

Don't see it if You don't like loud noises or strobe lights. King Kong can be scary.

Also I thought the singing was great and Ms. Pitts was amazing as Ann Darro... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great staging, Riveting

See it if you're interested in the stagecraft aspect - the gorilla is really cool! I also love the performance of Christiani Pitts.

Don't see it if you're expecting something more complex than the original B-movie material (which I think is unfair to the show, tbh).

Also I really don't understand why people are ragging on this show. No, the... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Epic, Great staging, Great singing

See it if You wanted to be amazed by King Kong! The execution of the puppet is absolute perfection. Christiani Pitts is an absolute force!

Don't see it if You want to believe the bad reviews

Clever, Great singing, Great staging, Epic, Ambitious

See it if you think you’ve seen it all on Broadway. The puppetry and puppet in this show elevate the spectacle of Broadway. And Pitts is a STAR.

Don't see it if your preference is small, intimate productions. This ain’t that.

Also I’m uncertain as to the middling reviews. I loved the music, the perfo... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (46)