Updated: May 28, 2022
A classic sports story punches into Columbia's Toby Dinner for an enjoyable retelling of the underdog. Thomas Meehan adapts Sylvester Stallone's Oscar-nominated screenplay Rocky for Rocky The Musical. Rocky Balboa (Patrick Gover), a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed (Gerald Jordan) when the undefeated fighter's scheduled opponent is injured.
While training with feisty former bantamweight contender Mickey Goldmill (Robert Biedermann), Rocky tentatively begins a relationship with Adrian (Lydia Gifford), the wallflower sister of his meat-packer pal Paulie (Adam Grabau).
Of all the films released in 1976, Rocky is one that I never thought would actually get a musical adaptation. Thankfully, composer Stephen Flaherty and songwriter Lynn Ahren create songs that will have audiences stomping to their feet as the story moves along. The play with a rousing number titled "Ain't Down Yet," where Patrick Gover shows off his singing and athleticism. For the most part, the play follows the movie's plot note for note. I hadn't seen the original Rocky in almost three decades, so watching the play on my birthday, the storyline came across as very fresh.
Patrick Gover makes a great hero, and throughout the show, he's easy to root for. Gover has a natural chemistry with everyone in the cast. The handling of his romance with Adrian is very organic and a highlight of the show. Kudos to Toby Orenstein & Mark Minnick for the pacing in the play and how fast it moves along.
Naturally, there needs to be a smooth flair for whoever portrays Apollo Creed and Gerald Jordan more than steps up to the plate. Two of my favorite numbers, "Undedetaed Man" and "Patriotic," feature Gearld on the lead, and I would love to see him in more lead roles. I also liked how "Eye of The Tiger" makes its way into the musical.
More than a note for note retelling of an Oscar-winning, Rocky The Musical delivers a knockout thanks to memorable songs and true-to-the-heart performances.
Final Grade : B+
Rocky The Musicals runs June 5, 2022, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road in Columbia, MD. Showtimes are Tuesday through Sunday, and showtimes and prices vary. Senior, military, and group rates are available. Tickets can be purchased directly through the box office by calling 410-730-8311. To purchase tickets online, visit Ticketmaster.com.