After more than a year of packed houses in Hamburg, Germany, Rocky: The Musical will soon open on Broadway, with a score composed by Stephen Flaherty (Composition, 1982), and his lyricist writing partner Lynn Ahrens. Tickets are already on sale for previews starting Feb. 11, 2014, at the Winter Garden Theatre and for an official opening on March 13.
Flaherty and Ahrens wrote 20 new songs for the show and retained three popular oldies: “Eye of the Tiger,” “Gonna Fly Now” and “Take You Back.” Because the story is set in Philadelphia in 1975, “the score combines a lot of sounds of the period — funk, soul, pop, rock and folk,” Flaherty says. “We look back to that time, but it is really a contemporary score.”
Rocky: Das Musical opened in Germany in November 2012, produced by Stage Entertainment, as well as Sylvester Stallone, creator, writer and star of the 1976 Rocky movie, which received 10 Oscar nominations. Germans loved the show. The front page of Hamburg’s daily newspaper declared, “Big Emotions, Big Theater.” And the city’s biggest tabloid announced, “‘Rocky’ Knocks Hamburg Out!”
Of course, both producers had hoped to move the show to Broadway eventually and did so even though the German production is still packing houses to rave reviews more than a year later.
“It has been an amazing adventure,” Flaherty says. “Our international cast in Germany comes from 12 different countries, and our band features some of the best players I’ve ever worked with. I’m having the time of my life. Thank God for the ‘Basic German For Dummies’ app!”
Flaherty and Ahrens have been writing popular musicals for 30 years, including two shows that won Tonys for best scores — Once on This Island in 1991 and Ragtime in 1998. The book for the latter was written by Terrance McNally, who won a Tony for his creation and who also wrote the book for Rocky.
In addition, Flaherty received a 2001 Drama Desk nomination for outstanding music for Seussical, which was originally scored for Broadway, later revised for a national tour, then revised again for junior-theater productions. For years, it has been one of the top three most-licensed properties in Music Theatre International’s licensing catalog.