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‘Rocky’ proves a knockout in Hamburg

Musical world preems to rave reviews

BERLIN

The world premiere of Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” musical has bowled over critics in Germany.

Stallone, who was present for the premiere at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg on Sunday, teamed up with boxing brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko and Hamburg-based Stage Entertainment to produce the show.

“Big emotions, big theater,” read Monday’s front-page headline in Hamburg daily Hamburger Abendblatt.

“‘Rocky’ knocks Hamburg out!” exclaimed Bild, Germany’s biggest tabloid, while Hamburger Morgenpost called the show a “triumph in Hamburg.”

Spiegel Online said, “The competition among musicals is tough, but this boxer epic can win,” adding that the “sophisticated high-tech” production ensured a “points victory.”

Attending the premiere, Stallone said the fact that the musical was premiering in Hamburg showed the extent to which the character of Rocky had gone from being just an American to a universal figure.

The Hamburg-based Klitschkos have said seeing Stallone’s 1976 Oscar winner when they were kids proved “an inspiration and motivation for our sports careers.”

Wladimir Klitschko also lent the production his boxing know-how by helping to train the show’s star, Drew Sarich, who plays Rocky Balboa.

The musical, directed by Alex Timbers, has a score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and a book by Thomas Meehan.

“Rocky” is the latest show to open in Germany’s musical capital, joining “Tarzan” and “The Lion King.”

Musicals have become a key economic factor for Hamburg, generating some €500 million ($640 million) a year for the city.

The musical is expected to open on Broadway in 2013.

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