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"Rocky", with Andy Karl as Rocky Balboa, at the Winter Garden
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"Rocky", with Andy Karl as Rocky Balboa, at the Winter Garden

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Shon 45 Wines & Spirits
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840 8th Ave (50th-51st)
New York, NY 10019

Mon - Thurs 10AM - 11PM
Fri - Sat 10AM - 11:30PM
Sun 12PM - 9PM

Stage Entertainment USA & Sylvester Stallone
Metro Goldwyn Mayer
et al.

(Rocky Website)

Book by Thomas Meehan and Sylvester Stallone
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Based on the MGM United Artists Motion Picture

Starring Andy Karl, Margo Siebert, Terence Archie
Dakin Matthews, Danny Mastrogiorgio, Jennifer Mudge

Directed by Alex Timbers
Choreography by Steven Hoggett & Kelly Devine
Producers: Joop van den Ende and Bill Taylor

At the
Winter Garden
1634 Broadway

With an ensemble of singers/actors/dancers

Scenic Design: Christopher Barreca
Costume Design: David Zinn
Lighting Design: Christopher Akerlind
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski
Video Design: Don Scully/Pablo N. Molina
Special Effects Design: Jeremy Chernick
Makeup and Wig Design: Harold Mertens
Production Stage Manager: Lisa Dawn Cave
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA/Carrie Gardner, CSA
Music Supervision: David Holcenberg
Orchestrations: Stephen Trask/Doug Besterman
Music Director: Chris Fenwick
Vocal Arrangements: Stephen Flaherty
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Assoc. Producers: Barbara Darwall/Michael Hildebrandt
General Manager: Bespoke Theatricals
Production Supervisors: Jake Bell/Lily Twining
Press: Polk & Co.
Advertising/Marketing: SpotCo
Exec. Producers: Adam Silberman, Eric Cornell
VP Marketing: Michelle Groner

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 20, 2014

The entire audience was pumped up for this exciting new musical about Rocky Balboa, the young heavyweight fighter who takes on champion, Apollo Creed, when Creed’s New Year’s eve contender drops out. Of course, Sylvester Stallone, who wrote and starred in the film, has written the book for this show (with Thomas Meehan), and Andy Karl’s (Rocky) tough-guy Philly inflection is true to the film and its sequels. Rocky rolls his shoulders as he speaks, in street-style muscle-flexing, even as he tries to woo his girl, Adrian (Margo Siebert), for a date. Andy Karl has the role down so pat he epitomizes 70’s Philly, and, yes, he dashes up and down those Museum steps, runs through parks in a hooded sweatshirt, and slinks into Adrian’s pet shop, where he had bought his pet turtles.

Tonight’s audience knew every beat of the plot, even screaming when Paulie (Danny Mastrogiorgio), Adrian’s bully of a brother, opens the cooler to giant sides of ice cold beef for Rocky to punch in his fight warm-ups. Rocky’s coach, Mickey (Dakin Matthews), poignantly morphs from the tough, driven boxing gym manager, who gives Rocky’s locker away, to Rocky’s relentless confidant and soul-mate, who drives his protégé to leap from loser to celebrity. Creed (Terence Archie) thinks he’s got his chump fight nailed down, for added glory and fame. Gloria (Jennifer Mudge) is a fun-loving co-worker and pal to Adrian at the pet shop. Act One is a set up for the fight, with early scenes of Rocky working as a “debt collector” for a loan shark, who aggressively orders him to “break a few”, if he can’t collect. Rocky’s got soul and hates this job, but he can’t seem to catch a break in his quest for a prize fight. Momentum builds with publicity for the Creed-Balboa expected knockout and flattening of this poor soul, suckered into the holiday arena. Momentum also builds romantically, as Rocky is tenacious with the very shy Adrian, who first dresses in drab attire, before she blossoms a bit. The Flaherty-Ahrens music and lyrics present Act One songs like “My Nose Ain’t Broken”, “Adrian”, and “Fight from the Heart”. Projections by Dan Scully and Pablo N. Molina are more understated in this Act, saving the best toward the rousing finale.

Act Two brings us into the final training sessions, with actual stairs rolled in, before the front section of the audience takes the stage and we are all ring-side for the fight. This moment is most vibrant and thrilling, with “Eye of the Tiger” blaring beyond belief. To describe the scene in detail would be to rob the reader of the spontaneous surprise that quickens the heartbeat and transports the psyche. Act Two songs range from “Training Montage 1” to “Training Montage 2”, to “Southside Celebrity”, to “The Fight”. Mr. Karl has accomplished vocal power and credible characterization. He’s also magnificently gym fit, no slouch here. In fact, during home training, he cracks eggs and drinks them instantaneously, drawing applause. Mr. Archie, as Creed, is also a gym specimen, well trained for the finish. Ms. Siebert, who carries three solo numbers on her own, like “I’m Done”, sings with clarity and warmth, while infusing wit and charm. Mickey’s “In the Ring” was sung by Mr. Matthews with punch and feeling, while Mr. Karl’s “Keep On Standing” brought the house down.

Christopher Barreca’s scenic design included a whimsical pet shop amidst the chalky, shadowy street scenes, and a pow-zap-wow second act boxing ring apparatus that will make Broadway history. Jeremy Chernick’s special effects added the extra pizzazz. David Zinn’s costumes included some snazzy silk prizefight arrival robes and ornamentations, while Harold Mertens’ makeup added the black eyes and fight wounds. Ironically, no fight director or consultant was listed, as in other shows. One wonders if Alex Timbers, Director, is a boxing pro as well. The street tumbles and in-the-ring fighting were realistic, in the moment. Peter Hylenski’s sound showcased quiet romantic interludes, as well as projected, pulsating rock, and Christopher Akerlind’s lighting is intrinsic to the combined stage and video-framed training, as well as to the compelling finale. Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine created boxing choreography extraordinaire. If you’re looking for glitz and energy, don’t miss this show.

Andy Karl and Margo Siebert
in "Rocky"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Andy Karl and Terence Archie
in "Rocky"
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at