Get ready for a whole host of boxing-related puns, because it’s time to report on how the musical adaptation of the classic Sylvester Stallone film, Rocky, fared in its opening stint on Broadway! Was it a knockout, or a heavyweight chump? Did the audiences feel like it punched above its weight, or were they yearning for the final bell? Either way, it’s seconds out…
Rocky does have elements that are tailor-made for the stage. How much more romantic can the premise get? Loveable loser gets a shot at the world heavyweight title, taking the feted champ all the way and winning the hearts of millions in the process. Throw in a love interest and surely you’ve got musical dynamite!
With the show having opened in New York on Thursday night, after fourteen years in the making, what did the man himself have to say? ‘Sly’ was in a philosophical mood: “It’s so typical of Rocky that everything is just uphill, it’s a battle, it’s always difficult. But that’s what makes these victories so rewarding.”
The New York Times probably summed-up the critics’ reaction best of all: ‘If you could win a Tony based on just 20 minutes, ‘Rocky’ would be a shoo-in. Problem is, that finale is preceded by an hour and a half of less thrilling moments.’ It’s ‘that finale’ that got everyone buzzing and saved the day for many. The fight scene is, apparently, a sight to behold, but there’s also a sense that the musical has taken the easy route by cashing in on a hit franchise, although the performances by the leads are said to be well worth watching.
But if there’s one thing that Rocky the movie has in common with any successful musical, it’s great songs. Who could forget the disco-infused theme Gonna Fly Now, as well as the rock classic Eye of the Tiger? This is one aspect that gets nailed, right? Well, not for everyone it would seem. According to one critic, the score mutters ‘solemnly and repetitively’, whilst another has called them ‘efficient not memorable’.
But if you’d like to hear cries of ‘Aaddriaannnn’ live and unleashed, look out for when Rocky hits these shores so that you can judge for yourself whether it’s a prize fighter or a prize turkey.
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