Musical of ‘Rocky’ heading to Broadway

NEW YORK — It’s been a knockout in Germany. Now Sylvester Stallone hopes a musical based on his beloved boxing film “Rocky” will also be a hit on Broadway.

Producers said Sunday they plan to get “Rocky” up and punching at the Winter Garden by February following a successful debut in Hamburg last fall.

Based on the Oscar-winning 1976 film, the musical features a score by “Ragtime” veterans Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and a story by Thomas Meehan, who wrote “The Producers” and “Hairspray.”

Originally written in English but translated into German for its world premiere and billed as “Rocky: Das Musical,” the show is produced by Stallone and Stage Entertainment USA.

“The reason I think it has worked so well there and why I think it’ll work on Broadway is that, yes, it’s a story about boxing, but the real story is actually an intimate, powerful and gritty and moving love story between two people who are both lonely and in a difficult place in their worlds,” said Bill Taylor, managing director of Stage Entertainment USA. “They rescue each other. It’s very uplifting.”

The musical stays close to the film, which charted the rise and romance of amateur boxer and debt collector Rocky Balboa, played in Germany by Drew Sarich. No casting has been decided for New York.

In the story, Balboa, nicknamed the Italian Stallion, gets his shot against undefeated heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, played in the film by Carl Weathers. He also woos a love interest, Adrianna “Adrian” Pennino. Stallone wrote the screenplay and it won the best picture Oscar in 1976.

The film made famous the image of Balboa running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the quote “Yo, Adrian!” The German production kept the trumpet-laden funky theme “Gonna Fly Now” and the anthem “Eye of the Tiger,” written for “Rocky III.” Both will also be in the Broadway version.

The director is Alex Timbers, who directed Broadway’s “The Pee-wee Herman Show” and directed and wrote the book for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” The boxing choreography is being done by Steven Hoggett, who choreographed “American Idiot,” “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Once.”

“This is not boxers doing a kick line,” Taylor said. “It’s stunning movement representing some of the sparring and the fighting. It’s very, very cleverly created.”

“Rocky” will be the first new tenant at the Winter Garden Theatre in years. The show that’s been there since 2001, “Mamma Mia!,” is transferring to another Broadway venue.

The musical will follow two other boxing-related works to appear on Broadway recently: Mike Tyson’s one-man show about his life in and out of the ring, and a revival of Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy” about a young man torn between his natural talent as a violinist and the fast money of boxing.

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