Pretty Romantic, Pretty Magical, Pretty Woman: The Musical

I confess to seeing the iconic movie countless times as it is one romcom that never gets old and with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts starring, well, what’s not to like?

The movie was a box office smash and the stage version is a huge hit. After an incredible record-breaking run on Broadway, Audience Choice Award Winner Pretty Woman: The Musical is going global and last night I saw it in Leeds at the Grand Theatre.

You know when the audience get to their feet, to the title track, en masse, at the end of the show that a good time was had by all and for two and a half hours I was able to immerse myself once more in the girl meets boy, rags to riches fairy tale. I mean, Cinderella even gets a mention! By the way, whilst the audience was made up of mostly women, all the guys were dancing in the aisles too!

Pretty Woman The Musical at Leeds Grand Theatre

Now, just ask yourself, have you ever been told to “Never Give Up On A Dream”? This message really resonated with me last night and this is just one song included in the score. Why do countless young (and not so young) hopefuls make their way to Hollywood?  To seek stardom, fame and all the trappings of course, that’s why! Just how many make it? Well, perhaps best not to go there, figuratively and literally.

This stage production does a cracking job of transferring the Pretty Woman the film’s backdrop brilliantly onto the stage and in the movie although the Hollywood Boulevard, iconic Beverly Wilshire Hotel and Rodeo Drive feature strongly you become so immersed in the “will they/won’t they?” aspect of the storyline that the geography fades away somewhat. Not so on stage, when it’s right there in smelling distance.

What was interesting for me is that the location and setting, provided by a very effective yet simple set, became way more real and such a huge part of the narrative. Hollywood is not a glamourous Los Angeles suburb. There is a seedy under belly to Hollywood that has been well documented and reported in recent years. The star lined pavement of Hollywood Boulevard is most definitely not paved with gold, especially as the sun goes down. What I really want to impart here is that the musical theatre version of this epic pops out at you even more than the film because it covers way more than the love story. The promo for this show will tell you that “It’s time to head to Beverly Hills and experience one of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic stories of all time – live . . ” but add to this a back story of cut and thrust, misfortune, disappointment, aspiration, prejudice, lust and greed. The fairy tale sits beautifully on top like the cherry on the sundae; it’s delicious, it’s comforting and it’s the bit we all buy into but your ticket price gives you way more when the spectacle unfolds before you whilst giving you a very true adaptation of the film.

This record-breaking, box-office smash-hit musical has hit the road on a huge UK and Ireland and features direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Hairspray), an original ‘blazing rock score’ (Daily Mail) score by Grammy® winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (‘Summer of ’69’, ‘Heaven’) and a book by the movie’s legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J.F. Lawton. That’s quite a creative team. The stylists had a field day on this one too and the show is beautifully costumed throughout. Love a bit of 80’s kitsch!

With a super strong supporting cast there were also numerous stand out performances. With Amber Davies as Vivian and Oliver Savile as Edward playing our romantic duo whilst starring alongside original SIX: the Musical queen Natalie Paris as Kit de Luca, Vivian’s best buddy.

TV presenter and Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba as Happy Man/Mr Thompson was sensational. Who knew that this guy was so multi-talented? At ease on stage in multiple roles, he possesses impeccable comedic timing, terrific vocals, all singing, all dancing, all rapping … all things fabulous. A name to look out for was young Noah Harrison, who plays Giulio, the Bell Boy.  He absolutely nailed his triple threat part to the Leeds Grand stage floor! Take note, one to watch, Noah Harrison! You heard it here.

Before I wrap this up I need to draw your attention to Soprano, Lila Falce-Bass making her musical theatre debut. The opera scene is such an iconic moment in the movie and I wondered how they might tackle the staging of this. Use of the Grand’s beautiful Royal Box perhaps? I won’t spoil the effect here but again it’s simply and cleverly done. Suffice to say they have created a real moment here that had the audience clapping before Lila’s rendition of ‘Sempre Libera’ from Verdi’s La Traviata came to a close. Clearly the story resonates with Vivian so it’s incredibly moving. She was so convincingly good!

I’m pleased to report that Pretty Woman The Musical is on at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday 25 May. Cautionary note. It is another production that is popular and selling well.  Do not procrastinate, book now!!

Images supplied

Review by Deana Morgan @deanamorgandance

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