Fox Theater reopens with Pretty Woman: The Musical, which is about 20 years too late

In 1990, acclaimed director and screenwriter Gary Marshall launched the career of then-ingenious Hollywood artist, Hollywood Julia Roberts, into orbit with the release of A pretty woman, the second highest grossing film of that year. She played Vivian Ward, a Hollywood prostitute who is hired by filthy rich businessman Edward Lewis, played by Hollywood idol Richard Gere, to be her arm candy for a week chatting with other rich to strike a multi-million dollar trade deal. At the time, popular sentiment saw the film as a twist on the classic fairytale story, with the ordinary girl saving the dashing, wealthy hunk from his crushing life. I remember watching the movie at the time and not being impressed. It was cuter than clever. I never really understood the appeal of Richard Gere, but I enjoyed the performance of Julia Roberts. The plot, however, just didn’t click with me. Lewis was ruthless in the boardroom, buying up big companies and dismantling them to sell them for huge profits at the expense of employees who would usually find themselves unemployed. This kind of person probably wouldn’t treat a prostitute like a princess, and certainly wouldn’t give up a career that earns her millions of dollars for “love.” I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to buy it.

Almost thirty years later, the curtain has risen on Pretty Woman: The Musical at the Oriental Theater in Chicago. A year later, the show made its Broadway debut at the Nederlander Theater. Now on his first American tour, Pretty Woman: The Musical opened the 2021-2022 US Bank Broadway series at the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis. It had been twenty long months since Fox had been opened to live theater fans in the region, and with COVID security protocols in place, the doors opened to admit approximately 2,700 guests into Room 4. 500 places – according to one of the sympathetic ushers, although I would have guessed that a higher number was present – for the first performance of a race of about two weeks (November 16-28, 2021).

Pretty Woman: The Musical is based on the book by Garry Marshall and his frequent screenwriter JF Lawton, who also co-wrote the film. Music and lyrics are by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams and his longtime partner Jim Vallance. The production is directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. The cast includes Olivia Valli as Vivian Ward, Adam Pascal as Edward Lewis, Jessica Crouch as Kit De Luca, Vuvan’s friend, Matthew Stocke as the unscrupulous lawyer of ‘Edward, Phiilip Stuckey, and Kyle Taylor Parker as Barnard Thompson, manager of the chic Beverly Wilshire Hotel and “Happy Man” who serves as the narrator / deus ex machina of the series. The decors, designed by David Rockwell, consisted of somewhat abstract designs reminiscent of the seedy side of 1980s Los Angeles, mixed with minimalist yet lovely backdrops for the lobby and penthouse at the Beverly Wilshire. Gregg Barnes ‘costume designs nailed the aesthetic, especially his recreation of Roberts’ wardrobe, which to my perspective looked like it had been taken from the movie.

The show itself, unfortunately, may be too faithful to the source material. There’s quite a bit of dialogue that, if not taken verbatim from Marshall and Lawton’s script, is at least close enough to sound like it used to be. if anyone other than the same creators who wrote the original material did, he would be heavily criticized in the theater world for it and likely labeled as hacks. Obviously, the tone and plot of the series don’t stray very far from the film. In the 2020s, much more sensitive, it is probably not for the best. The movie didn’t age as well as, say, ghost hunters, which could be one hell of a musical if done right.

The actors generally do well in their roles, but can’t elevate the material above being quite correct. Valli has clearly studied the film, recreating Roberts’ ways fairly well. I thought her vocals sounded better on the softer notes and lower register, but I found her high highs to be louder than on the pitch; my date thought the exact opposite of her vocal performance but agreed her playing was fine. We both agreed that Pascal, originally the role of Roger in To rent, was loud all around. I was a little surprised that a Broadway star of his stature joined a touring production, but pandemic cabin fever is real. Her Edward came across as a little more believable to me than Gere’s performance, although I couldn’t really explain why. His tenor voice was one of the real highlights of the show. Crouch, as Kit, also had a terrific voice – too bad his role was such an Italian-American cliché. If anything, the script made LA prostitutes in the Decadent Decade seem eerily sane, avoiding fake drug use or even making more than a few references to it. The Stocke version of Stuckley, played by Seinfeld star Jason Alexander in the movie, felt a lot more threatening here. When he faced Vivian in the climax, I felt a palpable fear that the character would want to do much worse than his dialogue suggested. Considering the generally light tone of the rest of the show, I enjoyed the more sinister undertones of his performance. If someone had just cost me an eight-figure corporate contract, my presence would probably be a little dangerous as well. I don’t usually care about the deus ex machina – the often magical “fairy-god” character that provides exposure the public probably doesn’t need, or abruptly undoes the Gordian knot that writers have written themselves in. Taylor Parker’s Happy Man isn’t that extreme, just unnecessary. Given how little Kit has to do with anything, this part could have been expanded to become the narrator as well. This is no blow to Taylor Parker, who danced and sang well and beautifully recreated the role of Mr. Thompson, originally played by Héctor Elizondo.

Perhaps what disappointed me the most was the music. I’m a huge fan of Bryan Adams, especially his work from the 80s and early 90s. From “Cuts Like A Knife” to “All for Love” with Rod Stewart and Sting, Adams’ music has a long history. held a coveted place among my favorite tapes and CDs alongside Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. The songs Adams and Valance wrote for this musical are totally unforgettable. More than a few of the numbers seemed incomplete to me, somehow ending unexpectedly when I expected more. As I’m studying the Playbill next to me right now, there was one song that I felt was the best in the bunch, but for the life of me, I can’t tell you which one it is now. The music feels like a first grade drama project in its simplicity and the lyrics are so simplistic that you could practically guess the next word without having heard the song before. Songs that explain what is going on while the actors are performing are totally unnecessary, and my pet peeve was rife here. As I mentioned before of the book recycling much of the film’s dialogue, Adams borrowed loopholes from his own catalog on some of the songs, most notably “You and I”, Edward’s catchy ballad sung over songs. riffs virtually unchanged from Adams. own great power ballad, “Heaven”. As soon as I recognized the melody, I had completely lost what Adam Pascal was singing as my brain struggled to put the lyrics to “Heaven’s” back in their place. And yes, I had to listen to four songs on Youtube before I found it to get the title right. Considering the time period the musical covers, Bryan Adams ‘hits of the’ 80s probably would have worked even better. At least the production secured the rights to use Roy Orbison’s classic “Pretty Woman” in the encore.

While it was great to be at the Fox Theater again after nearly two years of canceled theatrical productions and concerts, Pretty Woman: The Musical just wasn’t my cup of tea, nor the movie it’s based on. I expect fans of the film to enjoy it a lot more. Even if you’re not a fan of the film, seeing Adam Pascal perform in person is a treat you shouldn’t miss, especially if you’re a To rent fan! Just try not to lose your focus when familiar Bryan Adams guitar licks appear and you’ll be fine.

For more information regarding the United States, Tour de Pretty Woman: The Musical, please visit https://prettywomanthemusical.com/

To learn more about concerts and seasonal productions of current and upcoming Broadway shows at the Fabulous Fox Theater, please visit https://www.fabulousfox.com/

Be sure to familiarize yourself with Fox’s COVID-19 security protocols. I strongly urge guests to use their new check-in system before the show. It’s very easy to do and once their system validates your information all you need to do is show the confirmation screen on your cell phone when you get there. Once we were agitated by a crowd of people who seemed not to expect to have to produce a valid vaccination record or negative test to enter the Fox, we walked in immediately. online check-in process through the security checkpoint quickly and efficiently.

Do yourself a favor and plan accordingly, unless you were the two older women sitting across from me in section OR02, row L, who seemed to believe they could speak in their normal tones throughout the entire room. broadcast and let the volume increase on their phones so that all of us sitting around them can enjoy the sound of their message alerts as well as their incessant laughter. I know they were chatting loudly during the “Please shut up your electronics” announcement, which is given before each broadcast, so I guess they didn’t hear the message. You’d think people would turn off their phones out of habit now – all the cat photos and political misinformation will still be waiting for you at the end of the show – but then again, we know unequivocally that the Earth has been round for centuries and it there are still people who refuse to believe it. These ladies were obviously old enough to know how to behave in a theatrical performance and seemed to revel in their rudeness, which made their conduct even more deplorable. I encourage these two “Chatty Cathys” to stay home from now on. There is no shortage of clients, young and old alike, who would cherish these seats and respect the actors and other members of the audience. I would have found an usher to politely calm them down, but why should I sacrifice part of the show for you? My patience with rude and disrespectful people is extremely scarce these days. If you can’t control yourself and spoil the experience of the people around you, don’t bother coming at all.

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About Selena J. Killeen

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