Magazine article Variety

Knockout Staging Delivers 'Rocky'

Magazine article Variety

Knockout Staging Delivers 'Rocky'

Article excerpt

Knockout Staging Delivers 'Rocky'

Rocky Winter Garden Theater; 1516 seats; $143 top

Book: Thomas Meehan, Sylvester Stallone

Music: Stephan Flaherty; Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens

Starring: Andy Karl; Margo Seibert

Whatever your expectations going into "Rocky," you come out rocking the technology. No mystery about where the $16.5 million capital investment went in this musical iteration of the 1976 movie that made an iconic hero of Rocky Balboa. Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens no doubt took their pittance for scoring the book by Thomas Meehan and Sylvester Stallone. But the real coin for helmer Alex Timbers' extravagant production went into the spectacular projections, sound Rocky and lighting effects, and into the scenic showpiece , , - a regulation-size boxing ring that puts the audience front and center for the big fight. Looks like it was WOrth every Penny.

There are two sides to this story, Rocky in love and Rocky in the ring. The show opens in fight mode, 35 t^ie overture sounds the stirring call-to-battle trumpet fanfare 0f "Gonna Fly Now," the movie theme song written by Bill Conti. But despite a razzle-dazzle start, the first act is the soft one.

The book, the joint creation of Meehan and Stallone, fires up sympathy for Rocky (Andy Karl) by focusing on scenes in his grungy one-room apartment; the pet store where Adrian (Margo Seibert), works; and the changing room at Mickey's (Dakin Matthews) gym, where the poor chump has lost his locker rights. While a succession of ballads could put you to sleep, they do their job of winning hearts for Rocky and Adrian. The lean and graceful Karl may not match the original image of that bulked-up side of beef who dubbed himself "the Italian Stallion," but his sensitive perf reveals the tough guy's tender core. And with Seibert bringing her sweet voice and guileless manner to Adrian, these two misfits are a perfect match. In Act Two, Timbers lets the techno-wizards off the leash to play on Christopher Barreca's industrial-scaled set. But the real stunner is the video projections by Dan Scully and Pablo N. Molina: a moving panorama of black-and-white city scenes that dwarf the lonely figure of Rocky as he runs his heart out on his pre-dawn training sessions, which end, breathtakingly, at the Philadelphia Art Museum. …

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