‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ ready for Broadway


Erin Dickson

“Pretty Woman: The Musical” made its world premiere in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre before heading to Broadway, where it will open in July. 

By Molly Walsh

Trade the glass slipper for a thigh high black leather boot and a pumpkin carriage for a sleek black limo and you have the “Cinderella” of Hollywood Boulevard. Based on the 1990 film of the same name, “Pretty Woman: The Musical” made its world premiere in Chicago March 13.

“Pretty Woman: The Musical,” which will run until April 15 at The Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., tells the story of how Hollywood prostitute Vivian Ward falls in love with her client, businessman Edward Lewis, and lives happily ever after.

Despite the difficulties of screen-to-stage adaptation, the cast and creative team make the musical as fun, charming and romantic as the movie. While keeping the film’s plot intact, the music, choreography and directing enhance the story. And the cast delivers creative and entertaining performances throughout the entire show.

The artistic choices made by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell, the musical’s director and choreographer, make the musical an entirely different experience than the film. One stand-out scene is the dance number led by hotel manager and fairy godmother character Mr. Thompson, portrayed by Eric Anderson–a fresh twist that conveys the sweetness of the relationship between Thompson and Ward.

Equally memorable is David Rockwell’s set, which transports the audience all over Los Angeles, from Rodeo Drive to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The scenes are also elevated by Grammy Award-winning Bryan Adams and his collaborator, Jim Vallance’s score. Adams uses rock ‘n’ roll to create catchy tunes and memorable lyrics.

Regarding music, each member of the cast is a vocal powerhouse. Led by Samantha Barks (Vivian) and Steve Kazee (Edward), the ensemble is outstanding. Barks and Kazee individually are brilliant vocalists and together are a match made in harmony heaven.

Barks plays the strong, gracious princess type well and has fairly decent comedic timing. She reenacts many of the iconic moments from the movie as if she was with Julia Roberts during filming.

As the shy, wealthy and vulnerable male lead, Kazee balances the rest of the energetic cast. Kazee and Barks have chemistry on stage, but some of the blocking in the more intimate scenes  them could be changed to deliver more character and relationship development between the two. In particular, the iconic and intimate scene on the piano seemed a bit more aggressive compared to the film. 

It’s easy  to vocalize emotions with facial expressions on screen, but when it comes to this stage adaptation, more body language is necessary from Kazee to show his sexual interest in Barks.

Other members of the ensemble that deserve recognition are Tony Award-nominee Orfeh, portraying Vivian’s supportive best friend Kit, and Jason Danieley, playing the show’s main antagonist, Philip Stuckey. Orfeh’s comedic timing is on point and her deep, powerful voice demands attention. Danieley gives the misogynstic character of Edward’s lawyer a nice balance between creepy and funny. Both are strong actors playing powerful principal roles. 

“Pretty Woman: The Musical” will be adored by fans of the movie. For a screen-to-stage adaptation, the cast and creative team kept the film’s artistic integrity but added their own fantastic twist to the characters and style.