All the King’s men

A FORMER Bega student and member of Fling Physical Theatre is grappling with his biggest role to date – big in more ways than one.

In June 2013, 49 actors, singers, dancers, circus performers and puppeteers will become the world premiere All-Australian cast of epic music theatre event King Kong – and among them is Wyndham’s Tayo Wilson.

Wilson was last week officially named among the musical’s “King’s Men”, a group of aerialist performers who will be bringing Kong to life through puppetry, animatronics and a series of winches surrounding Melbourne’s Regent Theatre stage.

These aerialists will be purpose-trained by puppetry director Peter Wilson – the former head of Victorian College of the Arts Puppetry – and aerial/circus director Gavin Robins to manipulate the one-tonne, six-metre-tall, giant silverback.

“This is the biggest project I’ve been involved in, and will likely be the longest-running too,” Wilson said.

Due to the sheer size and logistics of King Kong, the production will not tour, but Wilson is proud to be part of what he said will likely be a huge Melbourne production.

“I’m definitely here for the first Melbourne season,” he said.

“And if it’s successful, who knows? The Lion King ran for 10 years.”

Wilson graduated from the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) in 2008 and joins a list of fellow Victorian arts students and graduates announced as cast members.

“I am ferociously proud of our 100 per cent made-in-Australia cast,” King Kong director Daniel Kramer said.

“Audiences should brace themselves; not only does our cast dance and sing and act, but they fly, flip, and fall through the air, looking darn gorgeous in the process.

“Never before have I had the privilege of working with such a group of world-class entertainers.”

Wilson said he will get some stage time in a number of full company cast scenes, but a lot of what he will achieve will be in the production’s background – albeit in the air suspended on a trapeze.

“I’m not an amazingly accomplished singer and actor,” he said humbly.

Wilson’s enjoyment of circus arts and acrobatics started at a young age, but was more about getting out of school work than anything else.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with myself, but I didn’t really want to do more book study,” he said.

While at school in Bega, Wilson took gymnastics classes and danced with Fling Physical Theatre.

He then auditioned for NICA, graduating with a Bachelor of Circus Arts.

“I sort of fell into it really.

“I have done a few corporate gigs around Melbourne and teach a bit of circus to pay the rent.

“I also taught flying trapeze in New York – that was a lot of fun.”

Wilson also hasn’t long returned from London where he performed at several satellite events during the Olympics.

He is now in rehearsal mode for King Kong.

“I still have a few little things on the go until this really kicks off in January,” he said.

“It will be pretty full on from then – rehearsing six days a week.”

Wilson still tries to find time in his busy schedule to return to the Valley, where his parents still live on the family farm.

“It’s getting harder and harder, but I usually get back over summer.”

• Tayo Wilson tests the “Ann Darrow in Kong Hand” sequence. Photo by Jurgen Oeltjenbruns.

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