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"Rocky" AT The Winter Garden Theater Reviewed

Yo Adrian

Yo Adrian

The best musical moment of the musical theater version of “Rocky” now playing at the Winter Garden isn’t all that great, but it is rousing and passionate and it has a starling image and, on the astounding stage , Rocky himself races up the stairs like it was  the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the song “Eye Of The Tiger” -not even mentioned in the Playbill, thunders.

“Rocky” has some great moments but this was the only great moment based around the music.

In the past 20 years or so there have been a handful of great music in musicals, composers Adam Guettel, Duncan Sheik and Cyndi Lauper have all given us memorable songs. But two of those names are rock and rollers, and really what we get more often than not  are hacks like composer Stephen Flaherty  and lyricist Lynn Ahern. These are the guys  who wrote trash for the likes of “Ragtime”, “Seussical” and “My Favorite Year”. Name me one song from any of them. Just one.

“Rocky” is just such a waste, there isn’t a song here. Nothing. It is shameful. The best song, and it is as terrible as its name, is “My Nose Ain’t Broken”. Flaherty writes tunes like he missed his calling, scoring blockbuster movies. And Ahern? Remember that old joke where they had a character in a movie called “exposition”. Well, that’s all this woman knows how to write. Her lyric reads like a French poem translated to English where the translator tried to make it rhyme.

A real waste because the book, by Sylvester Stallone and Thomas Meehan is very good. Meehan is a master, he wrong to the books to “Hairspray”, “The Producers” and “Annie”. Here Meehan makes the entire musical a slim seamless wild ride to a sensational ending. The story is fabulous any way, one half “Marty”, one half “Somebody Up There Likes Me” , an underdog boxer is given a shot at a fight against the world champion.

Andy Karl as Rocky acts a little too much with his porkpie hat (I kept expecting him to break into “Ralphie boy”) but he is fit and sings well, and while Margo Seibert can’t do much to save Adrian, she does what she can. Luckily the set is a beauty. Well lit, clever, with close circuit TVs for the fight scenes and a very energetic boxing ring that won’t sit still.

It is, of course, all building to the last 20 minutes where the first fifteen rows of the audience are moved on stage and the boxing ring for the climactic heavyweight championship of the world fight takes up the rows. An astounding piece of extended choreography, howApollo Creed (A nondescript Terence Archie, who can do nothing with his own big moment “Patriotic”) and Rocky punched each other out without actually touching each other for such a length of time is a wonder to behold.

But musicals are about the music and the music was awful.

Grade: C

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