A rep for Sylvester Stallone confirms to EW that Rocky: The Musical is being developed for a German premiere in November 2012. Stallone and boxing brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are among the producers of the show, which, according to The Hollywood Reporter, will feature a book by The Producers‘ Thomas Meehan and songs from Ragtime’s Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (along with tunes from the movie, including “Eye of the Tiger,” “Gonna Fly Now” and “Take You Back”). It will be directed by Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson‘s Alex Timbers.
Now, if the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Rocky” is boxing, you might be thinking this has craptacular written all over it. But let’s remember that the first film is a Best Picture Oscar winner and earned Stallone a screenplay nomination, and, more importantly, it’s a love story (the poster was of Rocky holding Adrian’s hand) — which is what the musical plans to focus on. It’s easy to forget after years of debating which training montage is best (Rocky III or IV?) how genuinely good the first movie is and what an amazing, timeless character Stallone created. Rocky looks and talks like a bum, but he’s decent and sweet enough to see the beauty in Adrian. If you ask me which scene from the movie I wanted to watch right now, it would be the end of their first date, when they’re back at his place and you see him working so hard to connect with her, not in a sleazy way but because he truly likes her. Then you have the sigh of the woman who never thought she’d find someone who’d appreciate her realizing she just had.
Tonally, the musical will be a challenge. Rocky’s dramatic doubt-filled moments that give the script weight are the same ones that could sound cheesy leading into a song. But if they can strike the right balance, get a Hugh Jackman-type to play the lead, and keep you from laughing when you’re not supposed to (remember there’s a lot of humor in the screenplay, too), imagine how incredible it would feel to be sitting there and have “Adrian” run past you on her way up to the ring on stage after the final bell. (You know she’s coming down the aisle through the audience and dropping her red beret.) If it’s good, this is a story that people want to relive. It’s the definitive underdog tale, and not just in sports, but also in love and life. That message of “all I wanna do is go the distance” only gets more powerful the older you get. It’s why I’ll never be able to listen to “The Final Bell” without tearing up because it reminds me of the heart my late father showed during his six-year illness and the courage, grace, and pride associated with those final moments.
Plus, honestly, at least this way, Stallone is bringing something new to the story, and not just allowing Hollywood to remake it.
Are you willing to give Rocky: The Musical the benefit of the doubt? What recommendations do you have for producers? (How should they do the running of the art museum steps? Escalator?)