A rousing ‘Rocky’ scores a knockout at Toby’s Dinner Theatre

The musical based on Sly Stallone's boxing movie is staged with spectacle and heart.

Spectacularly transforming its intimate, multipurpose theater into a full-fledged boxing arena, Toby’s impressively razzles and dazzles, working stage magic, in Rocky, its latest musical production based on the 1976 Academy Award–winning film.

Adapted from the screenplay written in three days by Sylvester Stallone, and whose real-life backstory resonates throughout his portrayal in the iconic movie, the revived production features 20 original songs by Tony Award winners Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (with additional music taken from the film series, including Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now”), which are each well-executed under the musical direction of Ross Scott Rawlings.

Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa (Gerald Jordan, Patrick Gover) in ‘Rocky.’ Photo by Jeri Tidwell Photography.

From the get-go, in a marvel of keen scenic engineering by David A. Hopkins, masterful lighting designed by Lynn Joslin and exciting choreography by Justin Calhoun, Directors Toby Orenstein and Mark Minnick inventively highlight the key touchstone moments of the book coauthored by Stallone and Broadway veteran Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and echo the most rousing optics of the Best Picture Oscar winner with all the accompanying adrenaline, verve, and fervor.

In his Toby’s debut, Patrick Gover, as Rocky, gives his all, physically and vocally, and parallels Stallone’s relatable charm and affable mannerisms but injects his own panache, humor, and vitality into the title role of a struggling, small-time boxer from blue-collar Southside Philly who is chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (deftly played by Gerald Jordan) when the undefeated fighter’s scheduled opponent is injured.

Lydia Gifford, who also makes her first Toby’s appearance, as Adrian, the shy little sister of Rocky’s old friend, Paulie (self-assuredly acted by Adam Grabau), authentically embodies the role and pairs well with Gover and sings beautifully, particularly in their duet, “Happiness.”

Rocky and Adrian (Patrick Gover, Lydia Gifford) in the finale of ‘Rocky.’ Photo by Jeri Tidwell Photography.

Pulling out all the punches with spirit and love, Toby’s Rocky is a rare and rousing musical with spectacle and heart.

Running Time:  Two hours 20 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

Rocky: The Musical plays through June 5, 2022, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road in Columbia, MD. Showtimes are Tuesday through Sunday, and showtimes and prices vary. Senior, military, and group rates are available. Tickets can be purchased directly through the box office by calling 410-730-8311. To purchase tickets online, visit Ticketmaster.com. 

The Toby’s Dinner Theatre COVID safety policy is here.

The playbill for Rocky: The Musical is online here.


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