Dazzling PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL stops by Straz Center For The Performing Arts
“If I forget to tell you later…I had a great time tonight.” –Viviane
“I want the fairy tale.”- Viviane
Anyone who’s been immersed in “pop culture” in the last 30 years has seen, heard or knows every line and sequence of the 1990 romantic comedy. A pretty woman featuring the iconic duo of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. The film tells the story of a prostitute in Los Angeles trying to make ends meet until she stumbles upon suave and good-natured businessman Edward Lewis. Directed by Gary Marshall, the film itself was meant to be a cautionary tale about class and prostitution, however, the budget was increased and what came out was a romantic comedy that quickly became the third highest grossing film ever. 1990s. Despite mixed reviews at the box office, the film earned Julia Roberts a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Vivian Ward and a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
The plot here is not complex and rather straightforward as far as romantic comedies go. Edward Lewis is on a business trip to Los Angeles, and while borrowing his lawyer’s car, he finds himself stranded just outside Hollywood Blvd. A simple chance-cute encounter with Vivian, a street-kind “Professional” turns his world upside down and he suddenly changes everything he’s ever known. During the meeting, she agrees to drive him back to his hotel. The two arrange for her to accompany him as his “romantic companion” for the week to his many business meetings, dinner parties, a night at the opera and the Beverly Hills Polo Club. Throughout romantic comedies, a guy meets a girl, a guy falls in love with a girl, a guy screws everything up, and the guy fixes it in the end, only to fall madly in love and ride a white horse into the sunset. At least that was the fairy tale Vivian had been planning since she was a little girl.
The musical adaptation directed and choreographed by the incomparable Jerry Mitchell does the film of the same name absolute justice and more. Boasting an exquisite score with music by Bryan Adams, pretty woman the musical did BIG, HUGE things from the moment he burst onto the scene. As the closing show of the Straz Center’s Broadway season, it’s the perfect end to an incredible year of live theater.
With an incredible close to an epic show season, what better way to conclude with one of Broadway’s biggest names. Adam Pascal originated the role of Roger Davis in Jonathan Larson’s Off-Broadway, Broadway and Film version. LEASE. Also behind the role of Radames in Broadway’s Aida, Adam’s soft, sultry voice is effortless here. His portrayal of Edward is faithful when it needs to be, and full of swagger with every sultry note in the moments of “Something About Her” and “Freedom.” Adam not only embodies the role made famous by Richard Gere, but adds his own flair and makes even the hardest of hearts swoon with every breath.
Olivia Valli as Vivian Ward is tough as nails and full of heart. Her moments in “Anywhere But Here”, “This Is My Life” and “I Can’t Go Back” are breathtaking. She has so much vocal power in her that she bursts out with every note. She embodies Vivian with such grace and courage that no one can stand in her way. Her chemistry with Edward is undeniable here and a perfect match from the start.
As Kit DeLuca and Vivian’s best friend, Jessica Crouch is undeniably fantastic, following in Orfeh’s footsteps, Jessica Crouch makes Kit her own and does it brilliantly. Her vocal prowess is unmatched in “Rodeo Drive” and “Luckiest Girl in the World.” She commands the scene and really takes no prisoners. Jessica should be exceptionally proud of her stunning work here.
Kyle Taylor Parker, best known for his portrayal of Lola in Jerry Mitchell Naughty boots, is notable as Happy Man. Opening the show and bringing us into the world of Hollywood, and following his turn as the hotel manager, and several other small parts make it an emotional twist. Kyle commands the stage in both his physical and vocal abilities. His songs “On a Night Like Tonight”, “Welcome to Hollywood” and “Never Give Up On A Dream” show the extent of his talent. His comedic timing is unmatched here, and his moments with Giulio are hilarious to watch. Kyle steals the show every time he’s on stage and is a great addition to the company.
As Giulio, Trent Soyster soars above the masses. They say when you see a sight like hamilton, you should not only pay attention to the guiding principles, but more often than not you should take a look at each person who makes up the Ensemble. No truer statement can be made than that of Trent’s performance. As Giulio, he leaves his mark on every scene he’s involved in. Her portrayal adds so much depth and comic relief to the moment, you’re constantly waiting to see what happens next. His moments with Happy Man and Vivian are beautifully rendered here, and there’s a moment with a wig in Act 1 that you have to see to believe. Young Trent Soyster is onto something here, and BIG, HUGE things are going to happen in the near future. Trent should be exceptionally proud of the fine work displayed here, because he is the one to watch.
With explosive choreography from the first moments of “Welcome to Hollywood” to the final moments of “Together Forever”, Jerry Mitchell’s musical adaptation of A pretty woman he has everything. While Edward Lewis Adam Pascal has a swagger that makes you want more, his effervescent vocals on “Something About Her” and “Freedom” take your breath away and make you swoon in all the right ways. Vivian’s moment with Edward makes you want the night to never end, and their duet moments, “Long Way Home” and “You and I” which features other company members are truly breathtaking.
Matthew Stocke (Phillip Stuckey), Chris Manuel (Owner), Carissa Gaughran (Susan), Alexa Xioufaridou Moster (Rachel), Michael Dalke, Christian Douglas, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson and Brent Thiessen (Hotel Staff) complete the company . , Anju Cloud (Scarlett), Christian Douglas (Fred), Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson (Senator Adams), Christian Douglas (Alfredo), Amma Osei (Violetta) and an Ensemble (Christian Brailsford, Anju Cloud, Nella Cole, Michael Dalke, Christian Douglas, Carissa Gaughran, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson, Chris Manuel, Alexa Xioufardou Mo0ster, Kaylee Olson, Amma Osei, Alice Reys, Jonathan Ritter, Trent Soyster and Brent Thiessen) and Swings (Matt Farcher, Em Hadick, Keyonna Knight, Devon McKlesky and Jonathan Young). Outstanding work by everyone involved and all should be commended for their exquisite work here.
pretty woman the musical is the perfect ticket for your girlfriends, mom, boyfriend, husband/wife, or anyone who loves romantic comedies. Filled with exceptional music, exceptional talent, stunning set design by David Rockwell, costume design by Gregg Barnes, lighting design by Kenneth Posner and Philip S. Rosenberg and sound design by John Shivers, this musical adaptation is sure to be the hottest ticket in town. So put on that red dress and head to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts until Sunday, May 22 to find out Pretty woman the musical. Who knows, maybe you’ll write your own fairy tale… tickets are available by visiting strazcenter.org.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy