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Rocky to fight on the Broadway ring

Rocky and Adrienne still go for love
The New York Daily News from AP Photo

“Rocky” was always a guilty pleasure. Who among you has not watched a television “Rocky” Marathon? “Rocky’ was the everyman, the Italian stallion, the fighter next door with dreams of glory. We all rooted for “Rocky.” Now we can root for “Rocky” on Broadway as well. In today’s issues of The New York Daily News and the New York Times (February 16), feature articles that discuss the new show that has people rooting for “Rocky” all over again. For more on this story visit http://www.nydailynews.com and http://www.nytimes.com.

Rooting for Rocky

Added today’s issue of The New York Daily News, “The first rule of fight club is you do not talk about fight club. But with fists flying and flesh getting pummeled in “Rocky” — now in previews on Broadway — people are talking about Steven Hoggett, the acclaimed choreographer and movement specialist who’s taught the cast how to throw and land punches that don’t KO each other.”

“The actors are making contact in the fights,” says Hoggett. “We’ve worked slowly, very slowly, to build up the speed and the intensity of the punches. We’ve put in a lot of hours to see how far we can take the amount of contact. We spend hours practicing so the actors never fear getting hurt,” added Hogget to The News.
“Even so, black eyes, blisters and body aches have been a painful reality of this singing-and-slugging saga of big dreams and small-time underdogs drawn from Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 best picture Oscar winner,” added the review.

“Andy Karl, who stars as nobody Rocky Balboa, and Terence Archie, who plays his nemesis Apollo Creed, have rehearsed since mid-December in order to shape up for the rigors of duking it out on stage. Both actors did a developmental workshop of the show a couple years ago,” added The News. “Before the match with Apollo, Rocky fights Spider Rico. The match with Spider "shows Rocky at his most base and unsophisticated,” says Hoggett. “I think of the first fight as being like London’s grubby East End. The second match is Vegas. We see the development of Rocky.”

And lots of it. The Balboa-Creed fight lasts more than 15 minutes in the musical. “The fights help tell Rocky’s story,” adds Hoggett to The News.

“Odds are that story — told on stage by book writer Thomas Meehan and songwriters Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens — is a familiar one for fans of the big-screen version that led to five sequels,” added the review.

“At the end of the day, ‘Rocky’ is a love story, and he could never have reached the final bell without Adrian,” Stallone said in a video produced by Stage Entertainment, added The News.
“The role marks the first star turn for Karl. Like the other fighting actors, he signed a danger waiver for the show — standard procedure when an actor is involved in risky actions. That could be a brawl or flying over the stage on wire,” according to The News.

Sides of beef hang on stage waiting for that Rocky one-two punch

According to The New York Times: ‘Massive sides of fake beef were being suspended from hooks onstage as workers zigzagged purposefully through the controlled chaos that was the Winter Garden Theater the other day. Somewhere in the middle of it all, taking a minute before a group stretch-and-limber session, was the man whose character’s name was already on the marquee outside and whose left eye was still black and blue from a poorly timed encounter with another actor’s glove a week or two earlier.”

“This was Andy Karl, who at 39, after years in understudy roles and supporting roles and ensemble roles and replacement roles in long-running shows, is opening on Broadway as a lead in a new musical for the first time in his career. The show is “Rocky” — the Italian Stallion, you may remember, likes to train by pounding beef — and he is playing Rocky,” according to The Times.
“Andy Karl, who plays the title role in the new musical “Rocky,” can take a punch. Literally. The show’s choreographer designed stage fights that combine timed punches with old-fashioned theatrics,” added the story in The Times.

“Rocky” is a “ $16.5 million production that requires a tough-but-tender leading man who not only sings, dances and acts but also boxes, most gruelingly in the sustained 20-minute bout at the musical’s climax,” adds The Times. “ Mr. Karl, who begins the show being demolished in a fight and ends it in a bloody mess after that final encounter with Apollo Creed, is in virtually every scene. And to the extent that the enterprise requires a certain suspension of skepticism (really? a musical of “Rocky?”), it also requires that Mr. Karl take possession of a classic role in a classic story that will always be indelibly associated with Sylvester Stallone.”

According to The Times, “Mr. Stallone wrote and starred in the original 1976 movie (and its sequels), conceived the musical and is one of its producers. For those who know Mr. Karl only as a musical-comedy performer, “this show’s going to be incredibly surprising to people,” said Alex Timbers, the director of “Rocky.” “Andy has a roughness to him, a strength, but he’s also got a tenderness, a stillness. That’s the quality people haven’t seen before.”

The musical “Rocky,” which opens on March 13, “has had a long gestation period, possibly because the idea seemed preposterous at first. But it won over skeptics — including the composing team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (“Ragtime”) and the book writer Thomas Meehan (“Annie”) — partly thanks to the emphasis it places on the romance between Rocky and Adrian, the damaged woman who believes in him. (The less-known but exceptionally sweet-
Sylvester Stallone inspired Andy Karl

“Mr. Stallone provided inspiration,” added The Times. According to Andy Karl to The Times: “He’d been typecast in all those tough-guy roles, and he looked like a tough guy,” Mr. Karl said. “But in his heart, he had so much more going on.” “There’s ways in which you do this full-contact boxing that are safe but also dramatic,” Mr. Karl said to The Times. “We want the audience to feel engrossed.” He is in pain most days — his rotator cuffs, his hamstrings, the muscles on either side of his neck.”
“I’m suffering for my art,” added Andy Karl to The Times. “A few weeks earlier, he had been rehearsing the opening fight scene — “They’re actually punching each other in the head,” Mr. Timbers said — when he ducked too late and got hit in the eye, which puffed up and turned all sorts of lurid colors. “

“I felt like more of a man,” Andy Karl said to The Times. “I know how to take a punch. I know what it feels like. I’m not afraid of the gloves coming at me.”

Staten Island arts and Broadway fans this is one tough boxing tale that is bound to bring both guys and girls back to Broadway. This is one story that is bound to catch a Tony or two. “Rocky” is in previews now. Staten island Broadway musical fans reserve your ringside seat now!