Yo, Adrian. They did it.
There’s a confluence of factors that make Rocky one of the most entertaining, moving and thrilling spectacles on Broadway in recent history. It pays homage to the original 1976 Oscar-winning cannon, brilliantly and effortlessly fuses together underdog and love storylines, and still maintains a dazzlingly unique theater-going experience. There’s just nothing quite like it out there.
For the rare few who aren’t familiar with the original film, Rocky Balboa is an out-of-luck club circuit boxer whose life seems headed nowhere. He barely makes enough to cover the rent by shaking down deadbeat borrowers for money. In his spare time, he toils away at the local gym, dreaming of being an elite boxer. His other dream has always been to be with his childhood crush, Adrian. Heavyweight champion Apollo Creed has a match set in Philadelphia, but due to his opponent breaking his hand, Creed is in search of a new rival. That person becomes Rocky, who faces insurmountable 80-to-1 odds against Creed. The odds should be even higher considering that Creed has never been knocked down in his career, nor gone beyond five rounds before ousting opponents.
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The Unlikely Ascent of Sybil Stevens is an entertaining exploration of the complexities of becoming a limited vortex public figure in the Internet age and the dangers that can go with it.
The play centers around Sybil Stevens (Jennifer Gordon Thomas), a flight attendant who is the lone survivor of a plane crash in Wyoming where all 256 passengers but her have perished. She is rescued by emergency worker Joe (Sean Williams), who is going through personal struggles of her own. Stevens’ nephew and recovering drug addict Derek (Jordan Tierney) assumes caretaker duties, and also becomes her personal publicist. Stevens denies all media requests, but that doesn’t stop wannabe-Oprah Tessa MacKenzie (Yeauxlanda Kay) and her researcher Valerie (Samatha Fairfield Walsh) from attempting to, and ultimately, booking the exclusive interview.
Things predictably go awry on MacKenzie’s show when skeletons are released from the closet in part because of a revealing, impromptu meeting between Valerie and Derek. Instead of attempting to minimize the chaos, Joe unexpectedly joins in on the interview and immediately immortalizes it. Suddenly, Stevens is embroiled in numerous scandals and controversy and is unsure of her next step.
For this play to work, the audience has to be endearing to the audience. Otherwise, the endless calamities that intrude on her life will fall on deaf ears.
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