Rocky Musical Will Get World Premiere in Fall 2012; Steven Hoggett, Kelly Devine, Alex Timbers in the Ring
By Kenneth Jones
Rocky, the musical version of the Oscar-winning boxing movie, will get its world premiere at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg, Germany, in November 2012, producers Stage Entertainment, Sylvester Stallone and Vitali & Wladimir Klitschko announced.
As previously reported, Tony Award-winning Ragtime songwriters Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (music) and Tony-winning librettist Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) wrote the musical, which had 2011 industry presentations in New York City. (Meehan previously told the New York Times that Sylvester Stallone, the story's owner, had approached him about the idea of a "Rocky" musical.)
Alex Timbers, who directed Broadway's The Pee-wee Herman Show and wrote directed and wrote the book for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (for which he was Tony-nominated as a writer), will direct, according to a promotional video released by Stage Entertainment.
Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, American Idiot, Peter and the Starcatcher, Once) will handle the boxing choreography. Kelly Devine (Rock of Ages) is choreographer of the more traditional musical numbers in the show that composer Flaherty called a kind of "visceral …street opera." In addition to offering intimate songs, the show also has its moments of "gladiatorial spectacle," Timbers said on camera.
The film's writer and star Stallone attended the 2011 New York City presentations of the developing musical about a meathead Italian boxer from Philly whose big heart lands him a shy girl named Adrian. As in the 1976 picture, Rocky Balboa's aging trainer Mickey, shady future brother-in-law Paulie and boxing rival Apollo Creed are major characters in the musical.
The movie from then-unknown Stallone won the 1977 Academy Award for Best Picture. It also won the Oscar for Best Director (John G. Avildsen) and Film Editing (the dynamic boxing-ring scenes had post-Watergate, post-Vietnam audiences cheering).
The musical is aiming for a Broadway life in 2013, Meehan previously told Playbill.com. The show is expected to include the original film's popular, Oscar-nominated song, "Gonna Fly Now," as well as the Oscar-nominated "Eye of the Tiger" from "Rocky III." The bulk of the score is made up of new songs by lyricist Ahrens and composer Flaherty. The composer said the score will be flavored with rock, R&B, folk and funk.
The production (to premiere using the German language) is billed on the Stage Entertainment website as Rocky, Das Musical, Fight From the Heart.
The scenic designer is Chris Barreca (The Violet Hour, Marie Christine).
No casting has been announced.
In New York City developmental rehearsals in 2011, Andy Karl (the UPS Man in Legally Blonde and a veteran of Altar Boyz) played the title role. "Stallone loved him," Meehan said. "He had never seen anybody else play Rocky."
Ahrens and Flaherty won the Best Score Tony Award for Ragtime, and were nominated for Once On This Island. Like Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock before them, they have been praised for their ability to write muscular, driving, melodic show tunes while alternately zeroing in on tiny human emotions in ballads.
Ahrens & Flaherty also wrote the scores to the musicals My Favorite Year, Seussical, A Man of No Importance, Dessa Rose, The Glorious Ones and Lucky Stiff.
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