BBC

PHILADELPHIA -Rocky The Musical has opened on Broadway, with technical wizardry triumphing over “non-descript” music. The musical - based on the Oscar-winning movie - is co-written by the film’s star Sylvester Stallone.

Set in 1975 Philadelphia, it follows an amateur boxer who gets a surprise shot at the heavyweight championship. “The finale fight is so visceral and exhilarating that it sends the audience out on a high,” writes David Rooney in the Hollywood Reporter. “Any grumbling about the musical’s shortcomings give way to open-mouthed wonder in its spectacular final 20 minutes,” adds Rooney. The final scene sees Rocky battle world champion Apollo Creed in the ring. “[Alex] Timbers and the creative team have successfully repurposed many of the movie’s most iconic moments for the stage, which are greeted with a roar of approval from the audience.” Entertainment Weekly’s Thom Geier calls it “a technical knockout” and Variety’s Marilyn Stasio calls it “a brilliant piece of staging”.

“By the time the big fight comes around, the audience is all warmed up — especially those patrons sitting in the first dozen or so rows of the orchestra who are escorted from their seats and trundled up to the stage and onto bleacher seats to play their collective role as the fight crowd,” adds Stasio. However, AP’s Mark Kennedy disagrees, calling the decision to move the audience “baffling”. “At this point, Rocky is trying to be immersive. The cost is its soul,” he writes.