I KNOW that there have been VERY few musicals that have not been based on other source material. Even in the Golden Age of Broadway, creators such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and their contemporaries found inspiration from other works in order to bring “the classics” to the stage. The King and I, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and Camelot were all based on well established works that came before. Although I was not around when these masterpieces were first produced, it seems to me that they all made some sense and were meant to transcend artistic genres.
That being said, there are times when (it seems to me) that things are better left alone. While it is only in the developmental stages, Rocky: The Musical is well on its way to becoming a full-blown reality. The collaborators of such shows as Annie, Seussical, and Hairspray along with Sylvester Stallone himself have already tabled a reading of the work (8 years in the making at Sly’s request) with plans of mounting a production in Germany next year and a possible NYC debut as early as Spring 2013.
While the original series of movies do contain some musical elements (the brilliant original theme, “Eye of the Tiger,” and the seemingly endless montages of Rocky IV), most of the music seems to have been placed in them for nothing more than selling a few albums and doing nothing to advance the plot. I suppose that the streetcorner crooners in the slums of Philadelphia could have a place in a musicalfied version. However, I cannot see two men in a boxing ring beating the tar out of each other while singing and being taken relatively seriously. Suspension of disbelief MUST have its limits although a musical of Rocky Balboa would seem to ask you to do just that.