“Yo! Adrian! Your good-natured friend Rocky — he’s shy and a little awkward — but he’s a keeper, and at 29-years old still believes “if you can dream it you can do it.” He is stuck collecting weekly paybacks from a bunch of gambling bums for a loan shark. But still religiously training for his chance to win a championship bout that will surely never come.
If you saw the movie you know winning isn’t everything — but self-respect and getting your girl is the most rewarding triumphs a man could wish for. Watching six-packed stud Andy Karl play the feckless boxer — look for awards nominations to surely come his way come Tony time — at the Winter Garden Theater you begin to believe that miracles can come true. But even a perfectly chosen cast isn’t the reason “Rocky” will rock on for seasons to come.
Credit for the exhilarating transformation of the film to a soaring theater experience — that finally drew our audience, cheering, to its feet as Rocky and his boxing champion nemesis Apollo Creed went at it in the recreation of a dazzling hot-white lit boxing ring — belongs to director Alex Timbers and set designer Christopher Borreco. And also to Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’ both spirited and poignant score and Thomas Meehan and Sylvester Stallone’s faithful adaptation of the latter’s Oscar-winning film. With kudos also to David Zinn (costumes), Don Scully and Pablo N. Molina (video design), Peter Hylenski (sound), Jeremy Chernick (special effects), David Holcenberg (music supervisor) and Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine’s choreography — assuming it includes the boxing and fight scenes — these are the reasons the Winter Garden is a rocking knockout of an evening.