Theatre Review “Pretty Woman: The Musical”

Pretty Woman
Segerstrom Center for the Arts - PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL - Adam Pascal and Olivia Valli – Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

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“Pretty Woman: The Musical” follows closely to the story beats of the original material of the 1990 film. Many famous moments and memorable dialogue gets played out live on stage. The adult audience will have a better time if they’re already familiar with that popular Richard Gere and Julia Roberts rom-com.

The first act focuses much on dance and choreography. And searching for the Hollywood dream to come true. The colors and set design distract from the adult beginnings of the story. Another element that perpetuate the fantasy dream ideology is the character of Happy Man filling in the smaller roles throughout the show. From selling maps to celebrity homes, to managing a hotel, and matching expensive outfits.  The bellman has sporadic bursts of dance at the spur of a moment. A stroll through “Rodeo Drive” becomes a fashion runway. The second act concentrated more on the emotional grasp of the characters. The tug of war between their feelings based on their actions and occupation.

Not every musical number is a winner. But the ones that are are worth the time it takes to get to them. I thoroughly enjoyed “Welcome to Hollywood”, “Something About Her”, “Freedom”, “You and I”, and “I Can’t Go Back”. I could easily listen to these song highlights all day.

“Welcome to Hollywood” proclaims itself as the land of dreams waiting to be fulfilled. The only way those dreams can come true is to keep believing, even if they don’t come true. Dreaming keeps the spirit alive.

“Freedom” establishes the glamorous life Edward built for himself still leaves him unknowingly empty. What he thought would make him happy, lots of money, is not truly giving him the kind of freedom he thought he would have. The emotional is peeking out over the physical accomplishments.

“You and I” is perhaps the one scene that actually improves upon the movie version. A musical segment of a non-musical movie that turned into a musical segment with the lead character gazing and revealing himself to the audience. The live operatic measures received the loudest applause for good reason.

“I Can’t Go Back” is without a doubt Viven’s anthem song. This is her declaration of empowerment that she is in control of her thoughts and actions. Adapting from her past, striving for the future, while navigating the present.

Pretty Woman
Segerstrom Center for the Arts – PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL – The Company of Pretty Woman: The Musical – Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

“Pretty Woman: The Musical” shows off the right curves for the soft rock concert you’ll want to spend the evening with. The songs are well produced and performed like a rock concert. But only a few will have an everlasting effect that can connect with the audience on a personal level. Those shining gems burn bright and earn its staying power in the classic tale of overcoming self-doubt and defying norms. Music and lyric contributions by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Bringing the late ’80s, early ’90s soft rock flair of the era that helps set the tone for the show.

The stunning cast is composed of Broadway’s best and brightest when it comes to powerful rock vocals. Olivia Valli (Wicked, Jersey Boys) as Vivian Ward. Adam Pascal (RENT,Chicago) as Edward Lewis. Jessica Crouch (We Will Rock You) as Kit De Luca. Kyle Taylor Parker (Kinky Boots, NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE) as Happy Man. Matthew Stocke as Philip Stuckey.

Garry Marshall directed the original 1990 film and eventually blended his passion of live theater into writing the book for the stage musical adaptation alongside original screenwriter J. F. Lawton.

Pretty Woman: The Musical

Performing now until July 17, 2022 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Tuesdays-Fridays at 7:30 pm. Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 pm. Sundays at 1 and 6:30 pm.

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