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P.E.I.’s Alex Kelly lands lead role in “Rocky: The Musical”


CAMBRIDGE, Ont. —

Alex Kelly has big gloves to fill next month.

The Canadian actor has landed the lead in “Rocky: The Musical” at the Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge.

And he can’t wait for rehearsals to begin.

“I’m so excited. I love the movie. And I’m looking forward to the show,” says the Cornwall, P.E.I. native, of the Drayton Entertainment production that runs from March 6-31 in Cambridge, Ont.

“Rocky: The Musical”, based on Sylvester Stallone’s Academy Award winning film, is the story of Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer from Philadelphia who fights to move forward in his life. Things begin to change when he has the chance to fight against Apollo Creed, the world champion heavyweight. In preparation, Rocky begins an intense training that prepares him both physically and mentally to fight against not only other fighters, but also against the ups and downs of life itself.

Like the iconic character he portrays, Kelly is preparing both physically and mentally for the role.

“I’ve been doing extensive training with a boxing coach for the past month and a half. I’m also on a very strict diet, with a workout plan,” says the 25-year-old, during a telephone interview.

Add to that the usual preparations that come with stage performance – learning lines, blocking, music and choreography– and playing Rocky becomes a challenging and exhilarating experience.

“Not very often do you get to play the role of an actual athlete. They’ve even hired a fight director to make sure all the fights in the show are en pointe.”

Casting the role also created challenges for director Alex Mustakas. He needed to find someone with the voice, athleticism and underdog spirit who could step into the ring and bring the boxer to life. And the search was “exhaustive.”

“Rocky Balboa is one of the most iconic characters in film history. In addition to searching for a young actor who had the vocal and physical stamina for the role, we knew we needed someone who could embody Rocky’s grit, vulnerability and passion – we are happy to have found that in Alex Kelly,” says Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment.

Kelly, whose first stage experience was in Bluefield High School’s production of “Fame” in 2010, says he “fell into acting very late.” Several cast members had dropped out and a friend suggested he audition for the show. It was such a positive experience that he auditioned for the Confederation Centre’s Young Company and got in when he was 16. The show’s director, Stephanie Graham recommended that he check out Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre program.

“From there it was just a spiral effect. I wanted to get into Sheridan, so I prepped and was successful. And my life took quite the turn,” says Kelly, who graduated in 2015.

Now, as he waits for rehearsals to begin next week, he’s finding out everything he can about Rocky.

“I love this character. Looking at the script and seeing how honest he is, how much heart he has and how much drive he has inspires me to bring him to life.”

Kelly’s also preparing for the challenges of the ring.

“I’ve always loved training and I’ve done it consistently throughout my life. But taking it to the next level – making it look like I’ve been boxing for years –is probably the hardest part.”

Alex Kelly fast facts

Finished a run in “Jersey Boys” at Stage West Calgary last week.

Performed in “Beauty and the Beast” at The Globe Theatre Regina and “West Side Story at Huron Country Playhouse for Drayton Entertainment.”

A former Young Company member at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Graduated from Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre Program in Oakville, Ont. in 2015.

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/alex.kelly.1044.

Musical website: https://www.draytonentertainment.com/rocky-cambridge.

sally.cole@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/SallyForth57


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