You know what Broadway isn’t missing? Another musical based on a movie.
But it seems, asked for or not, the Great White Way will be getting yet another show based originally on a hit movie. Over the weekend, news broke that plans were in the works to adapt Rocky, based on the 1976 Sylvester Stallone-starring boxer classic. The cast hasn’t been announced, but the show had a well-received world premiere last fall in Germany (hopefully containing a dance at some point in the show to “Eye of the Tiger”). Some may remain skeptical, but the creative team, particularly director Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher), is promising and known for bringing an offbeat sensibility to the material (Exhibit A: this preview video from Jackson).
It’s easy to see why producers like shows based on movies. There’s a built-in audience, meaning substantially less risk (Disney’s entire Broadway presence is build around this idea). But for every movie-to-musical hit — two buzzy recent openings (Kinky Boots, Matilda the Musical) are based on films — the road is scattered with disappointments. It isn’t so much that these shows (Ghost, 9 to 5, Sister Act to name a few more recent examples) are bad, it’s simply that for many theater patrons, the shows aren’t exciting. These productions aren’t bringing anything new to the art form, they’re just adding a few songs to an old familiar story.
Are you excited to see Rocky Balboa’s story in musical form (and by default, more movie musicals)? Or do you prefer musicals that have never seen a big screen?
A happy note to the purists out there: Love’s Labour’s Lost, also directed by Timbers and based not a movie but on Shakespeare’s play (although there was also a movie released in 2000! Everything, it seems, is a film eventually!), will premiere this summer as part of Shakespeare in the Park in NYC. Fans eager for some new musical tracks can listen to one new song released each week leading up to the premiere July 23. First up this week is “Are You A Man?” — a tune that coincidentally sounds like it would be right at home in Rocky.