Rocky - Original Broadway Cast Recording
To musicalize a famous film character (whether fictional or not) has always been a risky undertaking. Whether its Blanche DuBois or Spider-Man, the results can vary from placating the audience to an expensive fiasco. The latest Broadway attempt comes from none other than Sylvester Stallone, who has brought his classic boxer, Rocky Balboa, to the musical stage. Stallone compiled a first-rate team, bringing in Alex Timbers ("Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson") to direct and trusting the music to the consistently reliable Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty ("Ragtime," "Seussical"). With the show currently running at the Winter Garden in New York, Universal Music Enterprises has released the soundtrack recording.
"Rocky" is clearly a book musical, in the traditional sense, as the songs are predominantly used to tell us what the characters are feeling, and frequently don’t move the action. Also, there is a fair amount of instrumental music included on this disc, giving it a cinematic flair. The team was smart enough to keep in the two most well-known themes from the film franchise: Bill Conti’s trumpet fanfare from the original movie, and the Survivor hit, "Eye Of the Tiger," featured in "Rocky 3."
Andy Karl ("The Mystery of Edwin Drood") was fortuitously chosen to play Rocky, the ultimate underdog who is chosen to be a punching bag for the current champion, Apollo Creed (Terence Archie). Karl is certainly a joy to hear, though his opening tune, "My Nose Ain’t Broken," a quasi-country crooner, doesn’t quite give us a vivid picture of Rocky’s nature, foregoing the speech pattern so often associated with the "Italian Stallion." He is redeemed later though, when Rocky and is girlfriend, Adrian (Margo Seibert) finally find their groove on the duets, "The Flip Side" and "Happiness." Siebert also has her moment on "I’m Done," her 11 o’clock number where Adrian expresses her frustration with being a (figurative) punching bag for Rocky.
Given his personality within the story, it makes sense that the most entertaining aural performance comes from Archie, as the pompous Creed, on songs such as "Undefeated Man" and "Patriotic," a throwback to the 70’s disco sound that was prominent in the original "Rocky" movie, and comes complete with wah-wah guitar effects.
The show is garnering good notices, particularly for its boxing ring effects, and the recording will be a pleasant addition to accompany the experience.
"Rocky the Musical"
Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Andy Karl
CD and digital formats
Universal Music Enterprises