on 20 June 2014
If, like me, you're a fan of musical theatre the film Rocky doesn't seem like the first choice to adapt into a musical. When I first heard it was going to happen I thought it was the most awful decision since Carrie: The Musical.
But, as with Carrie, Rocky Broadway (as they decided to all it) is a pleasant surprise.
The story centres on a struggling heavyweight boxer just waiting for his moment. That career defining moment. But, there are some things more important. Such as falling in love.
So, if you've seen the film with Sylvester Stallone you will already know the story. That story is reinvented for the stage and embellished to great effect by the songs. Surprised? I was.
Rocky Balboa singing does not immediately sound like it will work. I'm glad to say my misgivings were unfounded.
I rarely get to see a musical on stage, so, for me, the cast recording is my only experience of the show. Some recordings can completely fail to capture the show's atmosphere (Mamma Mia - MUCH better live), while others make you feel like you're in the theatre. I'm pleased to say that Rocky Broadway falls into the latter category.
This Broadway Cast recording stars Andy Karl as Rocky and Margo Seibert as Adrian. For me, it is the relationship and chemistry between these characters that make or break this show; and I'm very pleased to report that both of them are amazing.
Andy Karl brings a sensitivity to Rocky that was there in the film, but is now laid bare and exposed. Song does that anyway and never more so than in this show. The same can be said of Margo Seibert.
The show is written by long-time Broadway collaborators Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens - writers of such brilliant shows as Ragtime and Seussical The Musical.
What they've managed to do with this show is create an easily accessible score that still has enough complexity to appeal to more die-hard theatre fans. There are definitely songs in this show that you will be humming after a couple of listens.
There are moments in the score that reminded me of songs from Disney's Hercules (on Patriotic) and also Ghost the Musical (on In the Ring)- neither of which is a bad thing in my opinion.
Thankfully, the decision to still concentrate on the love story between Rocky and Adrian works.
Adrian's ode to hopes and fears about Rocky, Raining, is a stand-out track but there are many, many songs to admire here, such as: My Nose Ain't Broken, Happiness and Adrian. Also of special note is Training Montage 2 because it incorporates the brilliant Eye of the Tiger to great effect.
While maybe not as rewarding as other shows I've recently listened to such as The Bridges of Madison County or Violet, Rocky Broadway is nonetheless a worthy addition to the Broadway catalogue and to my musicals collection.