PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Rocky Ringside at the Winter Garden

By Harry Haun
14 Mar 2014

Sylvester Stallone
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

"You have to take the movie apart and build places to put songs, so it feels like we're following the scenario of the movie, but we start new characters and there are new scenes. We also slightly changed the characters of Paulie and Mickey. Sly has been fine to work with. He sorta handed it over, saying 'You guys know theatre and I don't,' and he was very open for our changes. Toward the end, he came in about two weeks ago and had about three or four ideas that we incorporated. He was definitely the co-writer."

As star-making parts go, Rocky Balboa has struck again — with 39-year-old Karl, who's out for bear from the get-go: He sings! He dances! He acts! He boxes! "He's a quadruple threat — and a wonderful guy, to boot!" chimed in Rock of Ages' Kelly Devine, who's responsible for the choreography part of his workload.

Plus, from afar, in that pork pie hat, speaking sloppy Stallonese, he could be mistaken for the genuine article. "When Stallone first did the film, "said Karl, "he went to a thrift store and bought that hat for $3 for the movie — and that jacket was also just three dollars — because he knew he wanted that particular sort of feel for the movie.

"Stallone has been wonderful to me — a real champ. It takes cojones to want to take your baby — your movie — put it up on stage and get it to do what it did tonight."

For Karl, the musical was akin to growing up and playing your own childhood hero. "'Rocky' movies were as precious to me as a kid. I know there are in the audience a ton of people who did the same thing, so I'm doing the best I can for them."

As his love interest, the painfully shy plain-jane Adrian, Seibert brings to mind her celluloid counterpart, Shire — especially in her difficulty of getting words out.

"It's that underdog story of the two of them," she said. "Can they overcome what holds them back and will they really succeed? You just don't know. Can Adrian overcome it? You want her to, of course. I don't think she knows how not to be honest, and I love that about her. You can see her struggle, how much she cares about Rocky but how scared she is to let that out and jump off that cliff and live a little, but they have that slow burn together and you get to see more and more of her true colors.

Archie, who swaggered onto the local theatre scene in 2010 in the title role of Kristoffer Diaz's Pulitzer-contending play about TV wrestling, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, makes a properly imposing Apollo Creed, and, from the looks of him, he has stayed in training.