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'King Of Kong' musical comes to the UCB Theater

by Jacob Margolis and Michelle Lanz | Take Two®

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Billy Mitchell, the Video Game Player of the Century, poses while Steve Sanders, 'The Orignal King of Kong,' plays Donkey Kong at the launch party for the International Video Game Hall of Fame and Museum on August 13, 2009 in Ottumwa, Iowa. Ottumwa was officially proclaimed the Video Game Capital of the World at the launch party and plans are underway to build a full museum in the small Iowa city. The rivelry of Sanders and Mitchell is documented in the movie 'The King of Kong' where they played each other for the best score ever. David Greedy/Getty Images

Tonight at the UCB Theater in Hollywood, a group of TV writers will perform an 8-bit musical version of a "King of Kong," based on the 2007 documentary film about the intense competition to get the highest score in the classic video game, Donkey Kong.

For anyone who has seen the documentary, the idea of turning a magnum opus of video-game nerddom into an upbeat musical seems like a difficult feat, but not for creators Zach Paez, Joe Chandler and Matthew Patrick Davis. According to Davis, the story was ripe with fodder for musical comedy.

"They managed to find a story of Shakespearean proportions with a good guy and a really bad guy, with minions that are trying to thwart the good guy," said Davis. "We thought that would be great for a musical."

Two songs from "King of Kong: The Unauthorized Musical":

This isn't the first movie musically tackled by the team; They've produced musical renditions of "Jurassic Park," "Shining," and "NeverEnding Story."   Choosing which films to adapt is a delicate art that must have an element of nostalgia, a collective understanding and the team must have a personal interest in the material.

"It was really easy to pick the first one, which was 'Jurassic Park,' everyone's seen that, and everyone loves it," said Paez. "With this one, not as many people have seen it as 'Jurassic Park,' but we don't care because we love it just as much."

Davis and Paez say that the best crowd reactions come when people recognize memorable lines or scenes from the film. For instance, in the "Jurassic Park" musical, the scene where Muldoon says "clever girl," before being eaten by a crafty velociraptor was turned into a love ballad to Muldoon's beloved dinosaur foe. 

They also think the juxtaposition of seriously unfunny subject matter, like the plot of "The Shining," paired with peppy music lends a particular comedic effect:

For more info check out the UCB website.

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