Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rocky @ The Winter Garden Theater

“And now for the main event!”

Whether you are a hardcore fan or have never heard of the movie, ROCKY on Broadway is a must see!

Somewhere in downtown Philadelphia, a down-and-out fighter named Rocky Balboa struggles to stay on his feet. But when the chance of a lifetime comes along, he takes his best shot at becoming a champion… and his last shot at finding first love. The iconic underdog story ROCKY has inspired an innovative new stage production, brought to extraordinary life by a five-time Tony Award®-winning creative team, including director Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher), songwriting team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime), and book writers Thomas Meehan (The Producers) and Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, the Oscar®-winning Best Picture).

Any ROCKY fan will agree that Alex Timbers direction does the film justice and far exceeds expectations. He transfers the movie into a fantastic three dimensional realization, breaking the “fourth wall” left and right. Timbers also includes the obligatory training montage in the most clever and seamless way possible. The music and lyrics by Ahrens and Flaherty keeps a steady thread throughout the piece, successfully folding in classic ROCKY themes as if they were simply part of their own score. The piece as a whole however is not as lush or compelling as some of their other works.

Andy Karl as Rocky Balboa is quite possibly the hardest working man on Broadway.  He brings Rocky to life, infused with anticipated Stallone inspired bites while also brightening up the character with Karl’s own flare. His physical performance seems to equate to the stamina needed for competing in an Ironman Triathlon.  His super hero-like showcase is most obvious in the scene where Karl is belting out some impressive vocals while easily doing pull-ups.  This combination of mental, vocal and physical demands would bring most actors to their knees, but it highlights Karl’s strength and talent.

Two other performances to take note of are Terance Archie as Apollo Creed and Margo Seibert as Adrian.  Archie oozes with charisma as the arch nemesis Apollo.  His portrayal is perfect, leading us to hate Apollo while we smile uncontrollably each time Archie’s rich voice sings or speaks.  Margo Seibert’s Adrian has a wonderful character arc; the more that Adrienne grows in the storyline, the more Seibert’s vocals shine with the reflection of her character.  Archie, Seibert and the rest of the cast ignite the streets of Philadelphia with fiery passion.

The set, designed by Christopher Barreca, is everything that we have come to expect from a big ticket Broadway show.  The audience is drawn into the day to day life of each character with very detailed and intricate sets. We see Rocky’s worn wallpaper, fish swimming in a wall of aquariums in Adrian’s pet shop and Creed’s sleek mirrored business office. In the end, the set transforms to draw the audience into the action of the boxing ring. This set allows the audience to develop an intimate connection with each character and then leaves you feeling as if you didn’t just see a Broadway show, but that you were actually part of a boxing event! It is ingenious, not only in appearance but in functionality.

The fight choreography in this piece is probably the most impressive you will ever find in any Broadway show. Even sitting in the front row it is impossible to see “staged” punches. All of it looks authentic and is executed like a perfectly synced ballet.   It is so real that the audience can’t help being swept into cheering for their favorite contender.

This tremendous spectacle brings the classic movie to life in the most sensational way possible. ROCKY will leave you feeling exhilarated and wanting more.  Don’t miss it!

Review By: Staci Morin
Photos By: Chad Batka

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