Fordham Alum Takes on Broadway in “King Kong”

Gabriel Hyman, FCLC 15, has been in productions like The Prince of Egypt and is currently in the cast of Broadways King Kong. (COURTESY OF GABRIEL HYMAN)

Gabriel Hyman, FCLC ’15, has been in productions like “The Prince of Egypt” and is currently in the cast of Broadway’s “King Kong.” (COURTESY OF GABRIEL HYMAN)

By LAUREN PAGANO, Staff Writer

Before this past fall, the closest someone could get to any sort of wildlife in Manhattan was Central Park. As of November, one need go no farther than the intersection of 53rd Street and Broadway to find an enormous dose of wildlife and excitement, as a 20-foot ape claims the stage of the Broadway Theatre each night. On Nov. 9, one of the newest shows to grace the streets of Manhattan made its formal debut: “King Kong.”

While the story is not new by any means, its reimagining by director Drew McOnie is a wonderfully fresh take on a classic story. Alongside the 20-foot long and 2,000-pound puppet that is King Kong, the cast consists of 36 other performers, one of whom is Gabriel Hyman, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’15.Hyman, while only having graduated four years ago, has already taken the Broadway world by storm, beginning his illustrious career before he even graduated as a dancer with the Ailey II dance company.

Upon the completion of his time with Ailey II, Hyman ignited his Broadway career-to-be with his premiere in the California production of “The Prince of Egypt” as an ensemble dancer. From this West Coast jumping off point, Hyman seemingly began to forge his path towards the bright lights of “King Kong” on Broadway where he now dances as a part of the King’s Company and the ensemble.

While quite young, it is evident Hyman has already had an unparalleled experience in the richness and versatility of his career. Only 24 years old, and a mere three years out of college, Hyman has had the rare opportunity to have danced with both the best of concert dance and the the best of Broadway. Following the impressively eclectic nature of his career to date, Hyman notes that the biggest divergence between the two dance worlds he has lived and breathed daily lies in the way each story is manifested and presented to audiences.

“In concert dance, you are responsible for telling a story strictly through the body and movement,” Hyman said. “In musical theatre, storytelling happens not only through choreography, but through singing, dancing, acting and, in ‘King Kong,’ large-scale puppeteering as well.”

Also, while many concert dance companies like Ailey II have the opportunity to tell many stories in their performance of different repertories, Broadway requires one to be dedicated to performing the very same show eight times a week. As such, Hyman and many other artists on Broadway stages are forced to revitalize the same story with new energy, time and time again. While eight shows a week alone proves to be quite the rigorous schedule, Hyman keeps himself even busier in order to maintain his “A-game” on the stage as consistently as possible. Before evening performances, if there aren’t any prior rehearsals, Hyman will try to take a dance class and or get a vocal lesson.

While he recognizes the importance of maintaining and fine-tuning his talents, Hyman nevertheless points out that it is equally important to listen to your body, and will try to “relax as much as possible before tackling this ‘beast’ of a show.”

And a “beast” of a show this is, with some of the most extravagant puppeteering seen to date on any Broadway stage. Alongside three voodoo control operators, controlled by 10 cast members, including Hyman, the group known as the King’s Company works the mechanics of the puppet each night to bring a interactive and charged energy to the stage, shocking each audience with its impressive presence.

Receiving a standing ovation for the performance on opening night, the puppet brings a new and unique magic to Broadway that allows the show to find its own niche within the neon lights of the Broadway scene. Hyman, like the many others who perform in it and witness it, said, “This show is filled with so many different elements that go beyond the norms of any Broadway show. It’s a spectacle at its best with grand scale puppetry, athletic choreography, stunning and jaw dropping set design, projections and more.”

While all the flashy pomp and circumstance of “King Kong” may make the reality of pursuing a career on Broadway seem quite distant or unapproachable to the average audience member, Hyman argues that it is quite the opposite. According to Hyman, the best advice to prospective performers seeking a path to Broadway is “to trust your individual journey.

Everyone’s paths to Broadway, like most professions, are completely different. As long as you are dedicated to putting in the hard work, never limit yourself, and if you are open to growth and new opportunities, your dreams of being on Broadway can most certainly become a reality.” Eager audience members should go see Gabriel Hyman soar and flourish alongside the rest of his cast on the corner of 53rd and Broadway. If you do, you may just meet the future of Broadway on the stage.