Music Theatre International (MTI) has released worldwide licensing rights to the 2014 Broadway musical Rocky, featuring a score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens and a book by Thomas Meehan and Sylvester Stallone, adapted from the latter's Oscar-nominated screenplay.
Inspired by the 1976 Best Picture-winning film of the same name, Rocky centers on the titular working-class boxer who gets chosen to take on reigning world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed and his journey to train for the event. Stallone wrote and starred in the original film.
Ragtime and Once On This Island duo Ahrens and Flaherty, together with Meehan and Stallone, gave their musical adaptation of the property its world premiere in Hamburg in 2012, and it came to Broadway in 2014 starring Andy Karl and Margo Seibert.
“Everyone has a preconceived notion of Rocky, whether from the award-winning original film, or its many sequels,” says MTI President and CEO Drew Cohen. “In fact, this American story is so iconic, people smile at the thought of a stage musical. But Ahrens and Flaherty, Meehan, and Stallone have created a work that harkens back to the spirit and humor of the original independent film, with two of the most lovable and enduring characters ever created. In an America of haves and have-nots, Rocky resonates now more than ever. Since its Broadway run ended, we have received numerous requests from groups of all sizes who are excited by the audience-pleasing nature of the show."
“Rocky crept up and stole our hearts. Watching audiences lean forward, stand, cry and cheer for joy every night was one of the most beautiful experiences we’ve ever had in the theatre," adds Ahrens and Flaherty. "You can’t believe it until you experience it—there’s an innate magic to this story."
The musical was to have its post-Broadway premiere at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre during the 2020-2021 season, but it was moved to September 2022 due to the pandemic. That left Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania, to give the musical its post-Broadway premiere earlier this month. Truman High, the inspiration behind NBC's Rise, has previously hosted high school premieres of Les Misérables, Rent, Honeymoon in Vegas, Spring Awakening, and Kinky Boots.
“The Philly aspect was a major reason for producing this show, but the underdog story and using athletics as the focus in a theatrical production were what sold me,” shares the Truman production's director, Tracey Gatte. “Truman has always had athletes in our shows, but to truly have a piece that highlights their dedication was a perk! The students loved working on and preparing something that literally hits close to home. This show allows so many students to be involved and highlight their skills. Our AV classes supplied students to be the 'crew' who filmed the fight. Our football, soccer, and baseball players were the boxers, and some [got] speaking [or] singing parts. Our dancers were all cheerleaders and track team members. This was a whole school event with our marketing class working on the posters and logos. Our local boxing gym sent us a trainer to help with all of the boxing so the boys had to act, sing, dance, and box. I recommend this show for anyone who wants to build their program with a 'known' story that will attract a wide variety of students.”