By Frankie Kujawa
The ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is laser-focused in the ring this month at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, MD! Running through Sunday, June 5th, Rocky: A Knockout Musical, will have audiences on the edge of their seats rooting for both romance and the underdog! The powerful musical, based on the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, tells the story of Rocky Balboa gaining the confidence he needs to take on heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Actor Patrick Gover (Rocky) recently chatted about the training that went into preparing for this role and what he hopes audiences take away from the performance.
“This is a story of a fighter who, both metaphorically and literally, is an underdog,” Gover began. “He’s just a regular guy from South Philly who makes it on his own. He’s happy with the blessings that he gets through life regardless of his poor circumstances. It’s definitely an underdog story.”
Gover spent a lot of time preparing physically for the role of Rocky Balboa. “Physically, we had started training at Title Boxing Club, which was nearby Toby’s in Columbia. After getting the call that I had gotten the role [of Rocky], I just remember going to that gym once a week to start off boxing. People would ask me, ‘How’s the show going?’ and I’d respond, ‘Well, right now, I’m just boxing,’ you know.” Gover laughed. “Some of those workouts would be at 7 a.m. in the morning. I just remember waking up, getting there, and going hard at it each day. I had bruises on my knuckles, and sometimes it felt like I was really training to be a real-life boxer.”
Luckily, Gover had an athletic background to draw upon during his preparation. “I played football in high school. I was always big into going to the gym and working out. My only experience in being in any type of ring was being a wrestler in high school. So, I had some experience with that one-on-one type of match, as well as the hard workouts, but I had never experienced anything like this before. Especially those kinds of ‘boxing’ workouts. I was never really a cardio guy. I didn’t do long-distance running or anything like that. However, for this role, I started shifting towards that type of workout. I feel great now, but it was definitely hard training. I almost felt like I was getting ready for a fight!”
For the Columbia, MD-native, music has always been a part of his life. “I grew up one of seven siblings in my family.” Gover continued, “I have 5 sisters, and I’m number 5 in the lineup. I came from a musical family. We all started out playing piano as young kids. Then, half of us were dancers and half of us were into music. I ended up joining the choir in middle-school, and had my first experience with musical theater there, as well.” It was then that Gover completely fell in love with performing! He eventually went on to perform in one of Toby’s summer camps. After performing musicals in both middle and high school, Gover went on to double major in both music and theater at Salisbury University prior to graduating in 2021.
“When I heard back in June of 2021 that [Toby's] was doing [Rocky], I started re-watching the movie and saw versions of myself in the character.” Gover added, “With this performance, I hope that I can bring those parts of myself that are relatable to the character to the stage for audiences to enjoy.”
For more information, visit: tobysdinnertheatre.com/shows/rocky_the_musical_2022-2/