It’s hard to create a musical out of an iconic movie, let alone one that has spawned several sequels and doesn’t fit the norm of a movie musical. Prior to seeing the show I was only familiar with the pop-culture aspects of the movie. I’m probably the only person who hasn’t seen the movie. Without any preconceived notions of what the show should or shouldn’t be, I was pleasantly surprised at the show I saw. The musical numbers are not big and flashy. In fact, you could remove the musical element from the show and have a fantastic play. The story and book is that strong and can stand on its own.
Andy Karl is perfectly cast in the role of Rocky Balboa. Not only does he bare a striking resemblance to Sylvester Stallone’s famous role but his chemistry with Adrian is palpable. Samantha Shafer portrayed Adrian when I saw the show. She plays the innocent and out of her element Adrian perfectly. Her awkward flirt scenes with Andy Karl at the beginning of the show are great to watch.
The staging of the show helps a lot. The intricately designed set pieces appear automatically onstage from the rafters, as well as all directions on the stage. The set is gritty and represents the south side of Philly with ease. The final fight between Rocky and Apollo creed is an experience in its own. Those seated in the “Golden Circle” (the first 10 rows of the center orchestra) are taken onstage to sit as the boxing ring is lowered to the stage and rolled out over the previously occupied seats. This is where the fun starts. Now the Winter Garden has been transformed from Broadway theatre to boxing ring.
Rocky is currently playing at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. For more information on the show visit the show’s website.