Sure, it’s escapism, but isn’t that what Pretty Woman is all about?
Based on the hit film adaptation starring breakout star Julia Roberts and then megastar Richard Gere, Pretty Woman put a fairy tale spin on a story about a clever prostitute who charms a rich guy. The film is produced by Disney no less and solidly directed by the esteemed Garry Marshall. With natural elegance, pitch perfect comic timing, and tangible chemistry with Gere who she went on to star with in other film projects due to their thriving and bankable chemistry, Julia Roberts instantly became America’s Sweetheart at just 21 years old.
A lot of big box office movies become musicals, so Pretty Woman was inevitable.
Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell with music by award-winning singer-songwriters Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, Lexus Broadway in Boston’s Pretty Woman the Musical continues live and in person at the Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston, Massachusetts through Sunday, January 30. Click here for more information and for tickets.
While the musical lacks Roberts and Gere’s tangible chemistry, Pretty Woman the Musical is still a fun adaptation with a few memorable musical numbers and includes the beloved and iconic moments that charged the 90s rom com classic. However, I do wish the show took its time a little more. The scenes and dialogue at times seem rushed, but with a show already two plus hours, that can be understandable. There is a great deal to cover from the music to the wealth of the film’s signature moments, but perhaps subtracting the more forgettable reprises might make up for the patches of rushed pacing.
From colorful street clothes to flowing, runway fashion to majestic gowns that include Vivian’s iconic red dress, costume designer Gregg Barnes exacts the splashy nature and 80s/90s vibe of this fantasy fairy tale. Fashion bursts onto the scene in the flashy number, Rodeo Drive oozing in the elegance of many shoppers’ fondest dreams and can’t help but notice Jessica Crouch as Kit’s amazing and glittery red and gold heels.
One performer who does more of the heavy lifting in this version is Kyle Taylor Parker as Happy Man. He not only carries his excellent and fun-loving charisma to the neon glow of Hollywood Boulevard for What’s Your Dream, a catchy opening number with a tropic tinge, but keep an eye out for Parker to pop up unexpectedly and delightedly in various sequences throughout the production boasting sharp comic wit and dynamic spontaneity.
Olivia Valli, the granddaughter of Frankie Valli, has a lot to live up to and does not do a Julia Roberts impression even through those signature red curls, but she makes the part her own as a goofier free spirit and an even faster-talking Vivian than in Roberts’s memorable performance. Julia Roberts had more of an established elegance in her role, even when she is trying to look tough. Valli has her own unique and bubbly comic timing. She performs a charming rendition of This is My Life, created from one of Vivian’s monologues to Edward. She also delivers a heightened and powerful solo for I Can’t Go Back.
Adam Pascal as quiet, powerful, and observant Edward lacks Richard Gere’s subtle charm though he sounds a lot like Gere. His character is developed further than in the film, especially during his insightful solo, Freedom which is a nice addition drawn from Edward’s monologue in the film to Vivian.
Jessica Crouch’s vocal gymnastics with a rock edge as Kit uplifted Luckiest Girl in the World alongside Olivia Valli as Vivian and in the bright and catchy number, Never Give Up on a Dream. Kit’s spitfire persona and shoot-from-the hip attitude is a heightened version of Laura San Giocomo’s benchmark performance, but here Kit is a more established character and given a larger arc than in the film. She and Olivia Valli have a warm camaraderie evident from Kit’s first scene.
Jason Alexander has said that his opportunity for George from Seinfeld came from Pretty Woman and it was a hard fought battle for him to play the role of Edward’s lawyer and friend, Phillip Stuckey. However, in this version, Brent Thiessen filling for Matthew Stocke, is more of what director Garry Marshall originally had in mind for Stuckey’s intimidating, slimy, and snarky persona (imagine if Bradley Cooper took this role) and Olivia Valli as Vivian’s updated interactions with him are a little different this time around and more welcoming.
Whether it’s the astounding vocals from Amma Osei as Violetta or the scene’s up close and personal delivery or even Pascal’s beautiful rendition of You and I, which has an unmistakable Bryan Adams influence, the iconic opera scene between Vivian and Edward stands out as is one of the best scenes in the musical.
Lexus Broadway in Boston’s Pretty Woman the Musical continues live and in person at the Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston, Massachusetts through Sunday, January 30. Click here for more information and for tickets.