SBD/March 14, 2014/Media

"Rocky" Musical Connects In Broadway Debut With Spectacular Fight Finale

The new Broadway musical "Rocky" opened Thursday night to generally positive reviews, with most critics praising the show's exciting finale. In N.Y., Ben Brantley writes the show "at first feels like such a flat liner that you can't imagine that it could pull itself into any kind of competitive shape," and "true kinetic energy doesn't come to 'Rocky' until very late in the game." However, the climactic match between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed is "a hell of a fight, a brutally balletic coup de theatre that shakes up the joint in more ways than one" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/14). Also in N.Y., Elisabeth Vincentelli writes under the header, "'Rocky' Musical Scores An Unexpected Knockout." It "turns out that a boxing musical wasn't such a crazy notion, after all" (N.Y. POST, 3/14). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Joe Dziemianowicz gives the show three stars out of five and writes while it is "big-hearted, quick-fisted and predictable," its last 15 minutes "pack the punch of a heavyweight champ" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/14).

BIG FINISH: VARIETY's Marilyn Stasio wrote audience members come out of the show "rocking the technology." The production features "spectacular projections, sound and lighting effects." Its "scenic showpiece" is "a regulation-size boxing ring that puts the audience ringside for the big fight" and it "looks like it was worth every penny" (, 3/13). In Chicago, Chris Jones writes there will be "no question in theatergoers' minds as they leave the theater that they have experienced the thrill of a fight." It is "hard to overstate the achievements of this concluding fight, which is the reason 'Rocky' has the aroma of a long-term Broadway survivor" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/14). ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's Thom Geier writes "Rocky" "delivers edge-of-your-seat thrills" (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, 3/21 issue). NBC N.Y.'s Robert Kahn writes "for whatever its flaws, 'Rocky' the musical wins with a knockout final scene that is, guaranteed, unlike anything you've seen in the theater" (, 3/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Terry Teachout writes the musical is "very nearly as good" as the first "Rocky" movie on which it is based, "an unpretentious slice of honest entertainment whose rock-’em-sock-’em finale will set the snobbiest of theatergoers to cheering in spite of themselves." The show is "a knockdown hit" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/14). In Philadelphia, Chuck Darrow writes the show "despite a few annoying flaws ... is a rousing, feel-good spectacle obviously designed to push every button a theatergoer wants pushed" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/14).

A FIGHTER & A LOVER: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Brendan Lemon gives the show three stars out of five and writes the "main reason to see this spectacle is the stately Act Two emergence, from the proscenium into the audience, of a boxing ring." What "precedes that coup is ... a well-acted, occasionally dull and sometimes touching story of two wounded souls" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/14). USA TODAY's Elysa Gardner gives the show two-and-a-half stars out of four and writes it is "most affecting when things quiet down a little" with Rocky's "less flamboyant efforts as a man looking for love" (USA TODAY, 3/14). In DC, Peter Marks writes the last 15 minutes "are by far the show's best 15 minutes," as "what comes before is not a rush" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/14). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's David Rooney wrote the "dazzling staging of the climactic match trumps forgettable musical numbers." For a show that "on many levels is a miss," that sequence is "a thrilling knockout." If marketed successfully, Rocky "could become for boys and their dads what Wicked is to the girl contingent" (, 3/13).
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