Remakes usually happen in Hollywood, but lately, Broadway has been getting in on the action. The latest cinema classic to get the song-and-dance treatment is Rocky. We caught up with Terence Archie, who plays Apollo Creed in the theatrical production, to get his take on the show's R&B influences and life on Broadway for a Black actor.
There is definitely an R&B style to your vocals in Rocky, which we don’t always see on Broadway. How did that come about?
This show takes place in the mid-'70s, so they were just trying to draw from the popular music of that age. Someone like Apollo Creed, his character is very wealthy. He wears the latest duds and he hangs in the hippest circles and what not. It would seem reasonable that he would have a distinctly different sound than everyone else. I think that wherever he goes, there’s a soundtrack behind him [laughs].
When you’re singing in character, is there someone you are channeling? Or anyone that influenced that style?
Oh yeah, there’s a lot of influence. First of all, I’m still stuck in the '70s myself. I imagine you’ll probably hear influence from Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Isaac Hayes. It’s important to have that beat that Apollo moves to. He’s got to have that substance that no one else has on stage.
Your body is incredible in the show. It has to be hard to keep up that frame! When was the last time you ate carbs?
Haha, well, I do eat carbs, I do eat my donuts and ice cream — those tasty things. I think I’m still at an age where I’m just lucky. I’m sure it will catch up to me one day. I have been working out for quite a while, though. When you are an actor in the city, you have to do things that set you apart. I think I knew a long time ago I can't assume that my talent alone will get me parts. To be honest with you, I’m not the most talented person in the world, but at least I can work a little bit harder on my body.
There is a perception that Broadway is more diverse and easier for Black actors to find roles than Hollywood. Is that true or a myth?
I’m not sure, I haven’t done that much TV and film to know the ins and outs of it. But my hunch is that it is true, that maybe there is more opportunity in the theater. But, I think that in general, for minorities, there is still not enough. There is still more leveling of the field that needs to happen over the years.
You are a married man. Does the grind of Broadway affect your relationship?
I imagine it does. We have totally different schedules. My wife works nine-to-five, and I go into work beginning around 7 p.m., so we often times miss each other. We get to see each other for a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night. It is part of the grind, but I think it helps that we have longevity and a good foundation underneath us; we’ve been together for 13 years now. It always helps to have a good foundation of friendship.
Why should the BET.com audience go see Rocky?
Rocky is part of the American story. When you hear the song “Eye of the Tiger,” its like the theme song of determination for people worldwide, even if you don’t understand that language. If you can identify with that, I think you would like to see it in a 4D fashion. If you are a fan of the underdog story, a fan of love stories or just like seeing someone punched in the face, then there is something for you.
Rocky is playing at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway in New York City.
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(Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)