'Rocky' Musical Review: Rocky Wins The Stage
Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 film Rocky is the latest film to receive the musical treatment for Broadway. Directed by Alex Timbers and choreographed by Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine, the musical features a book by Thomas Meehan and Stallone and songs by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. If you’ve seen the film, you know the premise: Rocky Balboa, played by Andy Karl, is a small-time boxer from Philadelphia who gets his chance to live the American Dream when he gets an offer to duke it out with the world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed (Terence Archie). In preparation for the fight, Rocky trains with Mickey Goldmill (Dakin Matthews) and practices his punches on carcasses stored at a meatpacking plant where his best friend Paulie (Danny Mastrogiorgio) works. Though Rocky doubts himself and his talent as a boxer, he soon begins to gain confidence when he finds a reason to fight: love. Rocky falls for Paulie’s quiet sister, Adrian (Margo Seibert).
Rocky treats us to some immersive set pieces, such as a regulation-size ring. Patrons sitting in the first rows are escorted from their seats and brought to the stage or to bleacher seats, where they get to play the role of the crowd attending the fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed. The fight lasts for about 20 minutes and demands the attention of the crowd. The technology used to produce this musical is astonishing and adds to the viewer’s enjoyment of the show.
One of the overall themes of the musical is that love wins; without it, Rocky would never have mustered up the courage and motivation to become the fighter he always could be. Aided by the music of Flaherty and Ahrens, the musical illustrates the idea that through perseverance, one can accomplish great achievements.
The screen-to-stage trend isn’t slowing down on Broadway, and Rocky has gotten glowing reviews. Audiences seem to love the story of the underdog fighting for his love and for his legacy. The emotion and characters of the original film still ring true in musical form because the message is still there.
Rocky opened March 13 and continues to play at the Winter Garden Theatre.