The Appeal of ‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’

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Pretty Woman

The plot about a prostitute and a billionaire businessman is both improbable and nowadays politically incorrect. The 1990 movie version of “Pretty Women” is for many an enjoyable respite from reality. “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” which opened last week at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, is a light, entertaining, and faithfully rendered adaption sure to appeal to the same audience.

“Pretty Woman: The Musical” features many of the same plot points as Gary Marshall’s classic movie: Vivian (Olivia Valli – Frankie’s granddaughter) is a Hollywood prostitute who wants off the streets. Businessman Edward Lewis (Adam Pascal from “Rent”) falls in love and changes his corporate strategy before the final curtain. Large chunks of dialogue and some jokes (the jewelry box snapping, Vivian as Edward’s “beck and call girl”) are incorporated here. They even replicated the movie’s iconic outfits. How could they not? However, dated elements include the snobby Rodeo Drive salespeople and even Edward as a corporate raider who doesn’t build anything and doesn’t make anything?”Pretty Woman

Musical Modifications

So what is different? First, it is a musical, featuring a score by Grammy winner Bryan Adams and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance (“Summer of ’69”, “Cuts Like A Knife”.) Many songs in “Pretty Woman” move the plot along, but some stand out:

  • The opening “Welcome to Hollywood” production number is ironic when seen at the Dolby, which is on Hollywood Boulevard. The ensemble on stage sings about a fake Hollywood Boulevard while on the real one. They mention stars on Hollywood Boulevard that could be the ones in front of the theatre complex.
  • There are two anthemic songs belted by Vivian that could stand on their own as female empowerment songs. In the first half as a hooker, she sings “Anywhere But Here” – “I look around and what I see is I don’t belong here, this isn’t me.” In the second half, she realizes “I Can’t Go Back” – “I have regrets, But I can’t change the past. I want the real thing. Is that too much to ask?”
  • In the movie, Vivian learned about silverware to prep for the business dinner with Edward. In “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” the hotel staff appeal to her “Don’t Forget to Dance,” enabling a light-hearted dance number
  • Plot-wise another change is Kit opting to change careers too.

Ensemble Fleshes Out Material

Pretty WomanValli and Pascal do not fare well when compared with Julia Roberts’ mega-watt smile and charm or Richard Gere’s suave appeal. However, Valli shines on her own. Her big voice sells the slow numbers and she conveys the character’s initial desperation and later determination well. Unfortunately, Pascal does not give her much to admire, coming off stiff instead of reserved. His singing does not always work with the material, but he is credible when crooning about Edward’s growing feelings for Vivian.

The movie version of “Pretty Woman” mainly focused on the two stars, and maybe the hotel manager. The musical version, however, allows other cast members to stand out too:

  • Kyle Taylor Parker steals every scene he is in while playing multiple parts. He is a street vendor on Hollywood Boulevard, the Beverly Wilshire hotel’s dapper manager, and a nightclub entertainer.
  • Jessica Crouch clearly has fun playing Kit De Luca, Vivian’s companion in the street walker trade. With her brash persona and singing chops, Crouch dominates the scenes she is in.
  • Trent Soyster does not have much to say as Giulio, a bellhop. However, his expressions and his bits dancing with a mop and a wig add fun to the scenes he is in.
  • Lastly, Amma Osei is mostly part of the ensemble (walking Hollywood Boulevard, Rodeo Drive sales staff, etc.). But, she demonstrates her amazing voice in the opera scene, singing Violetta from Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

National Tour

“Pretty Woman: The Musical” may have received mixed reviews on Broadway, but the nostalgic Cinderella story has appeal. Ignore the issue of the sex worker role, and a rich man paying for Vivian’s time and wardrobe. Just think of the show as a chance to revisit an old favorite story.

The production will be at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles through July 3, 2022. “Pretty Woman” will then move an hour south to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa July 5-17, before heading to Tucson, AZ, and then San Diego. The national tour continues into spring 2023.

Written by Dyanne Weiss

Sources:

“Pretty Woman “ Performance

Tour.prettywomanthemusical.com

Broadway World: PRETTY WOMAN Broadway Reviews

Photos by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade: (top) Jessica Crouch and Olivia Valli, (middle) Kyle Taylor Parker
and (bottom) Amma Osei and The Company of Pretty Woman: The Musical

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