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A new stage production of King Kong will be opening at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne on May 28. The star of the show is going to be manifest as an 24-foot tall animatronic.

As late-night channel surfers are no doubt aware, Sarah McLachlan loves an innocent animal in distress. Limping dogs? One-eyed kittens? They can find comfort in her angelic arms as her tear-jerking SPCA public service announcement reminds us time and again.

Now, McLachlan is expressing her lilting love for that most misunderstood of animal giants – in a show that, producers hope, will make it to Broadway. The new musical King Kong begins previews in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday: a multimillion-dollar animatronic extravaganza starring a one-tonne, six-metre-tall silverback gorilla and featuring musical contributions from the likes of Massive Attack's 3D (Robert Del Naja), French electronic duo Justice, Aussie critical sensations The Avalanches and McLachlan.

There are also puppets and a cast of more than 40 humans in the show, which has been in development for five years and which producers are calling the most ambitious theatrical event of the decade. Produced in co-operation with King Kong creator Merian C. Cooper's estate, and with a high-profile international creative team, the show clearly has global ambitions.

Its musical Cancon, What's It Gonna Take?, is signature McLachlan: a ballad of hopes, dreams and longing. "What's it gonna take to lift the darkness? What's it gonna take to light my way?"

Neon lights, perhaps? We hear they're bright.