King Kong Captivates Drama Class with Smashing Performance

Over a dozen puppeteers worked together to physically operate King Kong.  Photo credit: Karen Wong

Over a dozen puppeteers worked together to physically operate King Kong. Photo credit: Karen Wong


Drama students got a thundering taste of Broadway spectacle March 13 at a performance of “King Kong” in Midtown. 

Stephanie Stile ’20 said, “I normally don’t do stage things, but I feel like now I’m more informed about theatre and acting in general. I definitely gained more insight in performance arts.”

 “King Kong” begins in 1931 in New York City with Ann Darrow, an actress trying to make it big in the city. She meets director Carl Denham who convinces her to star in his next adventure movie. Ann agrees, and they go off to remote Skull Island to film.

When they arrive at the island, they encounter the 20 foot tall Kong, who sweeps Ann up and runs off with her. Carl captures Kong to put on display back in New York. When Kong breaks free, Ann in hand, it sets up a showdown with war planes atop the Empire State Building.

Lily Accettulli ’19 said, “Watching this show motivated me to see the play come together, and do better on our own plays.” Accettulli explained how watching other plays and shows generates more ideas in students’ minds.

“This show gave me another perspective in terms of Broadway, since Kong was a puppet,” said Daniela Guichardo ’19. “This made me realize that theatre is like another dimension.”

“This wasn’t a typical musical,” said Karen Wong ’19. “The show involved a classical 30’s theme as well as modern aspects, such as the advanced animatronics. The variation in themes, I feel, really connected to the young audiences.”

Ms. Liz Bommarito, Midwood’s dramasq teacher, said, “My favorite part of the play was the actual puppet, Kong. He was more than just a puppet, he was an animatronic. You also had at least twelve to fifteen people physically moving the arms, legs, hands, and feet. I’ve been going to Broadway shows for a little bit of time now, and I have never seen anything like that before. I was truly fascinated.” 

Stile said, “What impressed me the most was the intense build up that the puppeteers created as soon as Kong came out.” 

The way this show was put together made each component stand out on its own. A great amount of the show was based on how the puppeteers managed to piece together each individual aspect to develop an eye-capturing whole. 

“There were a couple of instances in the show where I wasn’t looking at the stage but instead at the children’s faces,” said Ms. Bommarito. “One of those moments was when the stage became a huge ship. The far-end of the stage lifted up, and all of the tech that was used made us feel as if we were in the water, moving with the ship.”

“I just turned around to look at the kids’ faces when the ship came to be,” she said, “just to see them light up and be amazed by it, which was truly my favorite part.”

Which plays the drama class will be able to go see is always a bit of a surprise.

“Every year I participate in the Theatre Development Fund Open Doors program, where I sign up every semester and they assign me a show,” said Ms. Bommarito. “To be honest, this time I wasn’t thrilled when they told me it was ‘King Kong,’ because I was like ‘really?’ ‘King Kong’? Come on! That’s a movie, how could that be a Broadway show? I was a little skeptical at first, so I did my research online and saw an interview with the main actress, who played Ann Darrow. She seemed so enamored of Kong, and the way she spoke about it, she also felt as if Kong was an actual living, breathing thing.”

Many of the students were amazed by the work of the puppeteers. 

“The way that the puppeteers managed the puppets was truly captivating,” said Rivaldo Richardson ’19. “Each puppeteer coordinated Kong with extreme finesse. This was the highlight of the whole show.”

Students said that ‘King Kong’ also conveyed a lot of valuable messages that can relate to today’s generation.

Zahra Bajwa ’19 said, “In the show, the main character, Ann, refused to put herself into the mold of what being a female was. She defined that on her own.”

The show sent out a powerful message to women about their capability to accomplish so much more than “standard expectations,” Bajwa said.

FeaturesCasey Levinson