I LOVE King Kong. Not the musical, mind you, but the articulated title character at the center of it. The astounding puppeteers (named the King’s Company) work out in the open, making many of the creature’s moves in plain sight. They jump from heights with ropes connected to pulleys to make him stand using their bulk as a counterweight. They lift an ape’s hand to make him raise his arm. They use animatronics to crinkle his forehead. It sounds odd on the page but is magical on stage. They convey tenderness and fury that amazes. If I could watch them bring this giant puppet to life for two and a half hours I would be perfectly happy. You can catch some of this magic at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/11/theater/king-kong-broadway-musical.html
But the envelope that surrounds it has a number of problems. It has struggled through multiple writers and composers in years of development and it shows it. The score is lackluster and the attempts to give agency to the lead female falls flat and whenever King Kong is not on stage we miss the energy. Some of the projections are fabulous and impressive but if I am only praising technical credits there are real problems. The performers are talented and work hard but get swallowed up in the grand effects. It is worth catching but only for the title character. We’ll see if it catches on with tourists to be a decent Broadway run but I think that unlikely. The glorious effects do not make a full evening.