Rocky the musical made its Broadway debut on March 13, 2014, at the Winter Garden Theater. Sylvester Stallone and Thomas Meehan stayed true to the movie script while writing the libretto for the musical. The play opened in Germany for a test run before hitting Broadway in November of 2012. The movie was filmed in 1976 on the streets of Stallone’s home town of Philadelphia and has become a classic. Rocky the movie was nominated for 10 Oscars winning three awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.
The original score for the Broadway production was written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who are Tony winning and Oscar nominated songwriters for such productions as Anastasia, Once on This Island, and Ragtime. The production is directed Alex Timbers. Timbers was nominated in 2011 for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and again in 2012 for Peter and the Starcatcher. Rocky was choreographed by Steven Hoggett, who was nominated for the 2012 Tony Award for Best Choreography for the award-winning play Once.
The Broadway production of Rocky tells the story of Rocky Balboa, an unknown struggling Philadelphia boxer who gets the chance in a lifetime to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed. Rocky is a true “American dream” story that touched the hearts of millions when it first hit the movie theaters back in the 1970s.
The play stars Andy Karl as Rocky, and Terence Archie as Apollo Creed. Stallone and Meehan made sure the classic scenes from the movie remained a part of the story; Rocky’s beef slab punching bag, running the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum and chugging a glass full of raw eggs.
Some of the classic songs such as, Eye of the Tiger and Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now were included in the performance. Unfortunately, most of the reviews for the Broadway production say the actual music for the play is underwhelming, unlike the award-winning score for the movie Rocky by Bill Conti.
Now that Rocky has hit Broadway the reviewers were itching to get their two cents in, and their time has come. The opinions are in, and it looks like they are all in agreement across the board. Rocky the musical lacks substance as a musical. The songs are less than memorable, and the characters are way too nice that makes the play lack the conflict that made the movie so successful. The overwhelming agreement with the Broadway critics is the powerful fight scene during the last 16 minutes of the play makes the show.
According to critics the thing that makes the Broadway production of Rocky a hit is the electrifying fight scene at the end of the play. A boxing ring lowers from the ceiling and slides into the orchestra then the most spectacular fight scene ensues according to reviewers. One reviewer said if a Tony could be awarded for “just 20 minutes” from a play Director Alex Timbers would win for Rocky hands down. Unfortunately for the audience, they have to wait an hour before they get to the spectacular fight scene.
By Christina Thompson