'Rocky' on Broadway vs. 'Rocky' on film: Similarities and differences

Andy Karl in a scene from the "Rocky" Andy Karl in a scene from the "Rocky" Broadway musical, co-written by Sylvester Stallone. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

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In the 1976 Oscar-winning film "Rocky," written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, a down-and-out boxer gets a shot at the heavyweight title, but his shy girlfriend, Adrian, doesn't get it. "Why do you wanna fight?" she asks. "'Cuz I can't sing or dance," he replies. That was then. In the new Broadway musical version -- yes, and it was Stallone's idea -- Rocky Balboa, played by Andy Karl, sings plenty.

Purists, fear not -- he doesn't really dance. And those iconic film moments are all there -- pounding sides of beef, running up steps and boxing (the onstage bouts are choreographed but look remarkably real).

"Rocky" opens at the Winter Garden Theatre Thursday night. (For info, visit rockybroadway.com.)

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Here's a blow-by-blow comparison of the two "Rockys":

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MOVIE:

STAR: Sylvester Stallone (later famed for "Rambo" and "Expendables" films)

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AGE: 29 (during filming, now 67)

HEIGHT: 5-10

MUSIC: Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now"

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YO, ADRIAN: Talia Shire (Lake Success native; director Francis Ford Coppola's sister)

APOLLO CREED: Former pro-football player Carl Weathers

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ONLY IN THIS VERSION: Cameo from boxing champ Joe Frazier (who later claimed the meat-punching and step-running scenes were inspired by his own Philly workouts).

NUMBER OF RAW EGGS CONSUMED IN WORKOUT SCENE: 5

INJURIES: Stallone sailed through original but was hospitalized after a slug from "Rocky IV's" Dolph Lundgren.

 

 

MUSICAL:

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STAR: Andy Karl ("Jersey Boys," "Legally Blonde")

AGE: 39

HEIGHT: 6-2

MUSIC: Songs by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty of "Ragtime," plus Conti's theme and "Eye of the Tiger" (from "Rocky III").

YO, ADRIAN: Margo Seibert (in her Broadway debut)

APOLLO CREED: Terence Archie

ONLY IN THIS VERSION: Actual crowds. The low-budget film uses stock footage and close-ups of a few fans to simulate a boxing arena; in the musical, those seated up front are escorted to bleachers onstage, and a boxing ring slides into the center of the theater with massive LED scoreboard overhead. (The computer graphics aren't period, but the cheering fans are legit.)

NUMBER OF RAW EGGS CONSUMED IN WORKOUT SCENE: 3 -- and they're faux. (Hey, no producer can risk Rocky suffering salmonella poisoning.)

INJURIES: Black eye during rehearsal. "It's my fault," says Karl, laughing. "You take a role where gloves are coming at you -- you're gonna get hurt."

WHEN|WHERE Tuesdays through Sundays (excluding Thursday night's opening performance and this Sunday); Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway (between West 50th and West 51st streets), Manhattan

INFO $39 to $143 (plus $35 same-day lottery tickets); 212-239-6200, telecharge.com, rockybroadway.com

THE MOVIE The original "Rocky" airs twice next week on AMC: Saturday at 3 p.m., Monday at 2 p.m.

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