GONNA SING NOOOOOOOW!!!
I can’t believe I’m about to say this but yes, Virginia, there IS a musical based on the life of Rocky Balboa…and it’s about to make it’s way stateside.
Aptly titled Rocky The Musical, the musical is based on the multi-award nominated (including 11 Oscar nods and 3 wins, including Best Picture) film written by Sylvester Stallone about Rocky Balboa, debt collector by day and amateur boxer by night who dreams of getting that shot at greatness (which comes in the form of a bout against the undefeated heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed) while falling in love for the first time.
So why a Rocky musical now?
To be honest, the musical version’s been an idear for YEARS but with Mike Tyson’s one-man show and a revival of Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy (about a man in turmoil between choosing his god-given talent as a violinist or earning “easy money” as a boxer) both popping up on Broadway, seems like now’s a great time for not only a sports-themed story about one’s eternal struggle to be told once again.
The show was originally written in English then translated to German (hence the “das”) and opened in Hamburg last fall with American actor Drew Sarich in the titular role and Dutch actress Wietske van Tongeren as Adrian (above). No word on any stateside casting as of yet, much less whether Sarich and Tongeren will be asked to reprise their roles when the show opens next February at the Winter Garden Theatre in NYC.
ANYone who knows anything Stallone touches has to be quality and as he wrote AND starred in the role that earned him an Oscar nom for BOTH Best Actor AND Best Original Screenplay (and in 1977, was ONE of three people to do that, the others being Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin), you KNOW he wasn’t gonna jerk around with who was gonna handle his baby. So it should be no surprise Stallone himself and Stage Entertainment USA (who produced the German productions of The Lion King and Sister Act) sit as the show’s producers.
Judging from the images I’ve seen from the German production (where the show originated) and coupled with a score written by Broadway veterans and Tony Award-winners Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime), book by another Broadway mainstay/Tony Award-winner Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Hairspray), AND that’s it’s stayed pretty faithful to the film itself, the show could have some serious legs, man.
Directed by Alex Timbers (Broadway version of The Pee-Wee Herman Show) with boxing choreography by Steven Hoggett (choreographer – American Idiot, Once), this show is not one to be messed with, so don’t expect A Chorus Line with Everlast gear.
“This is not boxers doing a kick line,” said Stage Entertainment USA’s managing director Bill Taylor. “It’s stunning movement representing some of the sparring and the fighting. It’s very, very cleverly created.”
And before you ask, YES the trumpet-laced anthem Gonna Fly Now as well as the iconic Eye Of The Tiger are also included. Although the Survivor-fueled theme is TECHNICALLY from Rocky III, musicals are allowed to tweak just a little bit and let’s be honest…most people can’t remember which Rocky film it came from; only that they associate IT with Rocky and his drive to win one for the little guys.
Of COURSE the scene where Rocky runs the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is included; wouldn’t be Rocky without it!
Boxing theme aside, ANYONE (be they geek, nerd or “normal”) can identify with the story of a little guy going up against a big guy. And while Rocky doesn’t prevail in the manner we’re accustomed to in film, he wins in the grandest sense of the term: respect and someone who loves him no matter WHAT the outcome.
Stallone (above) says of the man known as The Italian Stallion, “The story of Rocky was very much like my life at the time — starting out with nothing, having to fight for roles and recognition. So I put those feelings into the body of a boxer and I had no idea there were so many millions of people that felt the same way.”
I cry when I watch Rocky EVERY time, so I have high hopes for this musical.
Also, my birthday’s in February (which is also the month the show opens on Broadway), soooooo…
HINT HINT DOUBLE HINT.
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