Yo, Adrian! Rocky Musical Being Developed; Meehan Is Librettist

News   Yo, Adrian! Rocky Musical Being Developed; Meehan Is Librettist The mush-mouthed Philadelphia boxer-brute known as Rocky Balboa, created by Sylvester Stallone in the smash 1976 film "Rocky," will sing on stage, librettist Thomas Meehan said.
Thomas Meehan
Thomas Meehan Photo by Aubrey Reuben

A musical Rocky, now in development, will have a libretto by Tony Award winner Meehan (who penned the books to Annie, The Producers and Young Frankenstein) and songs by the Tony Award-winning team of lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime and the current Lincoln Center attraction, The Glorious Ones), the writer told Playbill.com columnist Harry Haun.

The musical will be based on the first Academy Award-winning picture, which had a screenplay by Stallone, the librettist said. A number of sequels followed.

"It was made to be a musical," Meehan said. It's got all the elements."

Meehan (whose Cry-Baby musical is in previews in California) said Joe Mantello (Wicked, Assassins, The Receptionist) is attached as Rocky's director. The Academy Award-nominated theme from "Rocky" — the triumphant "Gonna Fly Now," by Bill Conti, Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins — will be a part of the score, Meehan added.

"Sylvester Stallone won't be in it, but he's given us his blessing," Meehan said. "He and I sat and worked it out together. It's really, on some level, autobiographical. He was an actor nobody cared about. The whole thing is an analogy of his own life." No production timeline, producers or other creatives have been officially announced. The project is still in its early stages.

"We've done some exploratory work on the project," Ahrens told Playbill.com Nov. 10. "It's potentially a wonderful project, but I really think it's premature to discuss anything about it. Nothing's been decided [about our participation]."

The original film won 1977 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (John G. Avildsen) and Best Film Editing. Also Oscar- nominated were leading actors Stallone and Talia Shire (as his shy girl, Adrian), supporting actors Burgess Meredith (as Rocky's old-school boxing trainer, Mickey) and Burt Young (as Adrian's brother, Paulie), as well as Stallone for his original screenplay. It also was nominated in the Best Sound category, as well as Original Song.

The picture concerns small-time boxer (and debt collector) Rocky aspiring to beat heavyweight champ Apollo Creed in an exhibition match. The underdog tale inspired post-Vietnam, post-Watergate audiences in the year of the nation's bicentennial and became a huge hit, making Stallone a Hollywood superstar.

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Golden Boy and The Body Beautiful are two Broadway musicals that were also set in the boxing world.

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