With the all too familiar Hollywood sign as the set backdrop, the national tour of “Pretty Woman: The Musical” finally landed in Orange County.
In today’s evolving world of criticism, some may not even give this storyline a chance. I for one am glad I did. A classic movie adapted into a musical will still be based on that same movie, even if someone moves the goal posts in 20 to 30 years to what good cinema or theatre should look like.
In this adaption, the musical producers took Garry Marshall’s 1990 romantic comedy and set it to a score by Bryan Adams and songwriter Jim Vallance. In addition, they did what they could to keep the storyline and look/feel of the film intact to meet certain expectations. Based on crowd reaction, their idea worked.
As for the show itself, it was opening night at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, and the night could not have been more ideal. The temperature was cool with a slight breeze as the sold-out house started to fill up. With anticipation in the air, the mood was nothing short of electric.
As I listened to the crowd chatter, most did not know what exactly to expect. Was it going to be 100% like the movie, or would it be a fresh take on a story we’ve all heard told in different ways? Well, the truth fell somewhere in between.
Spoilers from previous shows and reviews tell us that this musical has classic lines and elements we all experienced from the movie. The sets were bright and colorful, the hue even on the darker sets were illuminating. The choreography, the sound and dialogue all worked well in telling the story.
I will say this much; if you are looking for Julia Roberts and Richard Gere or a facsimile thereof to reprise those roles, well this may not be the show you think you are going to see. However, if you are open to a fresh take on a story of love and redemption, “My Fair Lady,” “Pygmalion,” and the movie “Pretty Woman” have some company to share on great storytelling: “Pretty Woman: The Musical” delivers!
Casting was nothing less than fantastic. Olivia Vallie played the Julia Roberts character of Vivian Ward, and Adam Pascal played the Richard Gere character of Edward Lewis. Vivian’s friend Kit De Luca was played by Jessica Crouch.
The entire cast was solid from top to bottom. Kyle Taylor Parker was the standout as he played multiple parts, but endeared himself to the crowd as the Hotel Concierge, as well as a character known as The Happy Man. Matthew Stocke played a good villain as Edward’s money-hungry attorney, Philip Stuckey.
PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL
Running Through July 17, 2022
Another crowd favorite was Trent Soyster as Giulio, the featured dancing bellhop. This character says little, yet manages to help the storyline with his gestures and faces, and his dancing skills are top notch; all of which ignited the crowd.
With familiar street names in the background – Beverly, Rodeo, Sunset and Vine – everyone in the house was transported back to a place and time when this movie was bigger-than-life. Clearly, from the opening scene Vivian wants to be anywhere but the streets of Hollywood, and just like the movie, Vivian meets corporate raider Edward Lewis.
Before you know it, Edward and Vivian have a $3,000 deal that keeps the duo in each other’s lives for six days. Much of the musical plays out like a scene-for-scene quasi-facsimile of the movie. That aspect delighted the crowd as part after part matched the movie, even down to the clothes worn by Gere and Roberts. In the film and the musical, I didn’t get what prompted the duos to take the chances they did. Then again, I’ve never written a successful feature film, so who am I to criticize.
All of these aspects went over well with the crowd. While the new music didn’t seem to have a specific showstopper song, it was solid throughout. Snippets of Verdi’s “La Traviata” featured in act two were crazy good.
The takeaway from this adaptation was two strangers that were searching for nobody, recognized another soul with game, which translated to respect and evolved into the most of human of experiences: acceptance and love, sealed by something as simple as a kiss.
The featured actors bring depth and personality to their respective characters making you like them in a way we couldn’t in the movie version. This musical adaptation has so many crinkles, you can’t help by root for Vivian once again!
With a closing to Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman,” the cast sang along and signed off to the crowd till the end bow, signifying the end of the show.
“Pretty Woman: The Musical” was powerful, moving, and electrifying. Catch it for yourself at Segerstrom, the Fairytale runs through July 17th.