Pretty Woman: The Musical @ Nederlander Theatre

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tickets and more information:
Booking until: 9th June 2019

Director/choreographer wizard Jerry Mitchell has waved his magical wand on another musical adaptation that’s arrived on Broadway. Based on the iconic movie, Pretty Woman follows rich businessman Edward Lewis as he meets Vivian Ward who is working as a prostitute on the streets of Los Angeles. Like Mitchell’s previous works Legally Blonde, Kinky Boots and Hairspray, Pretty Woman follows a similar formula in that it brings the movie to a new audience. With a book written by original screenwriter J.F. Lawton and original director Gary Marshall and a score by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Pretty Woman: The Musical simultaneously allows those who grew up with the movie to feel nostalgic while introducing a new audience to an iconic story.

Leading the company as the title character is Samantha Barks, making her Broadway debut. Edward sings of Vivian that “this is her moment, let everyone know” and it certainly rings true for Miss Barks. As a vocally demanding role, she appears in 9 of the numbers and does so with a powerful ease that it’s impossible to not be blown away by her voice. Given how much this role is associated with the film’s actress Julia Roberts, Samantha Barks is a breath of fresh air as she brings the iconic character to life with her own charm, heart and charisma. Playing opposite her as Edward is Broadway favourite Andy Karl, whose voice was just made for this rock filled score. Karl does a great job, but in my opinion, the character is quite bland. He’s the personification of upper class privilege. He’s a hard character to root for, because you don’t know what his end game of the story is. He sings about Vivian being “freedom” but freedom from what, exactly? I found this really wasn’t explored, but one could argue it’s not Edward’s story. The show isn’t called “rich, straight man the musical.”

There’s also scene stealing support from Orfeh as Vivian’s best friend Kit DeLuca. It’s clear Samantha and Orfeh have a close relationship and it translates to the stage perfectly. Orfeh carries a voice that is to die for. She could blow the roofs off stadiums. Her solo Rodeo Drive is a stand out scene in the show, as well as on the cast album. And she’s also delivers some killer one liners.

The only real issue I had with the show was that the book felt a bit outdated. Given the political climate we are in at the moment surrounding the #MeToo movement, I was surprised that the creative team don’t seem to acknowledge this at all. Vivian has a song called This Is My Life which is beautifully performed by Samantha and at one point she hits back at a creep. But even then it feels too PG and not gritty enough. There’s an overarching fairytale aspect of the show which I felt, became a bit predictable towards the end. Even though ultimately, that’s what Pretty Woman is. It’s a fairytale. It’s a rags to riches story. It’s people of two different classes finding each other. But I didn’t really enjoy that part of it. Maybe that’s my personal taste but I find “instant love” stories a bit ridiculous. The whole show takes place over a week, is that really how long it takes to decide you’re gonna be “together forever”?.

That being said, I still found the show to be thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable to watch. It really isn’t as bad as other people have made it out to be. Especially when you have a creative tea like this. Jerry Mitchell has worked his magic again and his choreography is sublime. On a personal level, I’m thankful he was the one who got Samantha Barks to Broadway. However, with a catchy score that I can’t get enough of and a fantastic cast, my parents and I had a fab Saturday night out on Broadway and I doubt we would have wanted to be anywhere else.

Until next time


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