The musical version of Rocky is getting ready to go the distance on Broadway. The production will open at the Winter Garden Theatre in the spring of 2014. The current occupant, the smash hit musical Mamma Mia! will be moving to the Broadhurst Theatre later this year.
Rocky is based on the 1975 film about the scrappy small-time fighter Rocky Balboa who goes up against the heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Filmed in Philadelphia in 28 days on a small budget, Rocky was written by and starred then-unknown Sylvester Stallone as the titular underdog. The film went on to win three Oscars including Best Picture as well as nominations for Actor (Stallone, who was also nominated for his screenplay), Supporting Actress (Talia Shire), and Supporting Actor (Burgess Meredith and Burt Young). It also spawned five sequels, all written by and starring Stallone.
The musical features a book by Tony-winner Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Stallone with a score by composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens, whose Broadway works include Ragtime and Once on This Island. The production opened in Hamburg, Germany in the fall of 2012 and is still playing there to packed houses. Director Alex Timbers, who received Tony nominations for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Peter and the Starcatcher, will repeat his staging chores.
“I couldn’t be more proud or more excited about this production and how my original story of Rocky Balboa has been brought to spectacular life onstage,” said Stallone in a press statement. “The story of Rocky was very much like my life at the time—starting out with nothing, having to fight for roles and recognition. So I put those feelings into the body of a boxer and I had no idea there were so many millions of people that felt the same way. Alex Timbers and the entire creative team have not only honored that original impulse, but have made his story as exciting, heart-breaking, and inspiring as it was when Rocky first went the distance on screen.”
The last major Broadway musical with boxing as a backdrop was Golden Boy, based on Clifford Odets’ drama, which starred Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1964. The 1937 straight play version received a revival earlier this season from Lincoln Center Theater.