|Sylvester Stallone on stage with the actors portraying Adrian and Rocky in the Broadway play.|
Rocky. The movie that perfectly encapsulated the quintessential underdog story nearly forty years ago. The movie that launched Sly's career, and influenced the lives of countless baby boomers.
How do you recapture that magic? At least, in a minor sense? You release a version of the story on Broadway, of course. Now, I know what you're thinking..."how in the hell do you take a movie like Rocky and transplant it onto the stage?"
It's a good question, and one I am prepared to answer seeing as I saw the play yesterday. Basically, they stayed true to the movie script, using a brilliant assortment of shifting dynamic sets and clever illusions to keep nearly the same atmosphere and pace as the film. Mixed into dialogue pulled directly from the 1976 blockbuster was a bundle of musical-esque songs that fleshed out some of the plot points previously left to the viewers imagination, such as Adrian's secret adoration of Rocky.
Overall, I would say that the songs added more to the play than they detracted from it, which was a worry I had. I mean, you can't really picture Rocky belting out show tunes before you see it, but the way they did it, it just..worked. I can't really describe it beyond that. The songs were assisted by a soundtrack that was, impressive, to say the least. There was a full orchestra (to be expected with a Broadway play) and they pulled from a smattering of songs from the original movie, such as Gonna Fly Now. In a move to appeal to less-rabid Rocky fans, they made heavy use of the infamous track, Eye of the Tiger too. I say less-rabid because any true fan would know that that song wasn't used until Rocky III. Still, it gave me chills when I first heard it.
Now for my gripes, and there weren't many so bear with me. The first is that, during the last fight scene, they didn't play Bill Conti's Going the Distance. They also left out the part where Rocky breaks Apollo's ribs to that very same theme. The actor who played Rocky was great, overall, and definitely had the voice. That being said, they should have given him brown contacts as his ice blue eyes definitely didn't make him look Italian.
Lastly for the nitpicky stuff, Adrian should have lost her hat during the final scene, just as she did during the movie, mostly because that led to such a heartwarming moment between her and Rocky (and because it would have appealed to the nostalgic yearnings of my Italian Stallion worshiping Mother and Uncle). Though I will say that the actress playing Adrian was pretty cute with the hat on, so maybe they decided to go with eye-candy over accuracy.
Anyways, all that didn't matter because the final fight was freaking amazing. I happened to be sitting in the cool seats, which meant that we were actually able to go on stage and sit in the bleachers for the final fight. How cool is that? It was like we were watching the fight between Creed and Balboa live! Like living out one of your favorite scenes in a movie! Being a part of fiction! It was a surreal, incredible experience, to say the least.
So if you're a Rocky fan, you'll LOVE this play. If you've seen Rocky but weren't enthralled by it, you'll still enjoy the set, the songs, and the magnificent fight sequence. If you haven't even seen the movie...well...why are you even reading this review??
The play is being taken off of Broadway August 17th so get your tickets while you can!
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