The Walnut Street Theatre will open its 2020-21 season this fall with a production of Rocky, The Musical updated specifically for Philadelphia.
The show will run from Sept. 8 to Oct. 25, adapted from the musical — cowritten and coproduced by Sylvester Stallone — that opened in Hamburg, Germany, in 2012 and had a Broadway run in 2014 lasting from February to August.
Based on the original Rocky, the musical draws on the story line of the film, following the unlikely rise to stardom of punchy palooka Rocky Balboa and his romance with Adrian. There are production numbers built around the movie’s “Eye of the Tiger” and “Gonna Fly Now,” along with songs, such as “South Philly Hero,” written for the stage show.
There have been some adjustments — the Broadway version of “South Philly Hero” refers to the “South Side” of Philadelphia, which is not, of course, what locals call it, so it’s been changed, said Walnut spokesman Daniel Lopez. Other tweaks have been made to localize and update the production, he said.
“We are promising Philadelphia a knockout season, and are thrilled to open with the ultimate knockout show, Rocky, The Musical," producing artistic director Bernard Havard said in a statement. “In addition to the thrilling boxing story line, Rocky is also a great story of love. ... and that most important of all emotions follows us through our entire season.”
That season also includes the stage version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Nov. 17, 2020-Jan. 17, 2021), Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit (Jan. 26 — March 14, 2021), Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, (March 23-May 9, 2021), and the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s rise to stardom, On Your Feet (May 25-July 11, 2021).