• Prose and Purpose

    After 25 years on the job, a former provost examines the world on campus and in higher ed.



My relaxation is watching a musical while at the same time, as an economist, I recognize the importance of the theater to the economy of New York.

April 20, 2014

I’ve stated on numerous occasions in this blog that I am a Broadway musical theater fan.  My relaxation is watching a musical while at the same time, as an economist, I recognize the importance of the theater to the economy of New York. 

Broadway musicals stand out usually for the most obvious of reasons, the music.  Les Mis or The Phantom are the best examples of the impact of brilliant music.  The story line also helps carry a show as does who stars in the production.  The story line of The Producers, plus having Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the two leading roles, made all the difference. Having kids in the show also resonates with the public: Annie certainly has nine lives, the kids in Matilda are terrific, and the young Michael Jackson in Motown is a pleasure to watch performing. Scenery and staging also make an enormous difference and help a show clearly stand out as a hit.  Lion King has set the standard and The Women in White helped advance technology in theater by having the scenery computer generated on the stage.

Rocky, which I just had the pleasure to see, has set a new standard for scenery and staging.  Before I talk about that specifically, I would also like to acknowledge the terrific casting of the leading roles.  Andy Karl as Rocky, Terence Archie as Apollo Creed and Margie Seibert as Adrian were all perfect for their parts. The importance of the pet turtles should also not be overlooked. In addition, the music was pleasant and the story line—though well known— had us all rooting for the underdog. But at the end of the day, it was the staging especially of the final fight scene that mesmerized the audience. Now up to that point the scenery was excellent and captured everything from Rocky’s apartment to where Adrian lived, to the gym, locker room and (initial) boxing ring, to the pet store where Adrian worked, and especially the slaughter house where Rocky trained on the hanging sides of meat all helped set the mood perfectly for the show. The famous museum stairs were also there.

The final fight scene for the championship between Rocky and Apollo was spectacular from start to finish. Before the flight happens the front center audience goes onto the stage and sits in bleacher type seats, the boxing ring then moves out into the theater and is situated on top of the seats in the center audience. Rocky marches in next followed by Apollo in a terrific Uncle Sam outfit. At this point everything looks like an authentic fight from the referee to the announcer to the sport commentators. And the fight begins and it is staged brilliantly and convincingly.  It all works perfectly.

Rocky the musical may rival Rocky the movie franchise in terms of long term success.  For doing what it does as well as it does it, the success is clearly deserved.


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