Lock up your partners, ground your aeroplanes, hide your high rise buildings. King Kong is coming to Broadstairs.
But no, it isn’t the legendary giant monkey – it’s the story of an extraordinary musical about a boxer called King Kong which electrified apartheid-bound South Africa in the 1950s.
“Todd Magic Geezer” by Ace Books, tells the story of how the musical was made. And it gets its world premiere in the Sarah Thorne Theatre in Broadstairs this November.
The man who wrote King Kong, the musical, was a journalist called Todd Matshikiza and by a great coincidence the man playing the musical hero is also Todd – Steven Todd, one of Thanet’s best known actors, who’s played everything from murder mysteries to Shakespeare.
“It certainly is a coincidence that I’m playing Todd.” says Steven “When we started work on the show I didn’t think I was even going to be in it!”
The part, he feels, is particularly special because he’s playing the star of a show which got made despite impossible odds.
Steven says: “Todd Matshikiza was black, his lyricist was white – and in 1950s South Africa it was actually a criminal offence for whites and blacks to associate. Despite this and despite every other conceivable hindrance and hardship they got the show staged in South Africa and it was a huge hit. Nelson Mandela – before they threw him in jail – attended the first night.”
“King Kong” transferred to London’s West End where its portrayal of “the life, colour and effervescence –as well as the poignancy and sadness – of township life” electrified huge multiracial audiences.
“How “King Kong” was created is a fantastic story,” Steven says, “and we try to tell it with humour, heart – and, of course, songs.”
The play has been produced for Broadstairs Dickens Players in association with Hags Ahoy.
“Todd Magic Geezer” is on Friday 11 November and Saturday 12 November at 7.30pm and Sunday 13 November at 2.30pm at the Sarah Thorne Theatre Company, Hilderstone, Broadstairs. Ring 01843 863701, www.sarahthorne-theatrecompany.co.uk.