Set Once Upon a Time in the 1980s in Hollywood, “Pretty Woman: The Musical” returns to Chicago December 14-19, 2021, and it is not to be missed. Directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell, Music and Lyrics by Bryan Adams & Jim Vallance, and book by Garry Marshall & J.F. Lawton, this production stays true to the movie. Don’t worry, several of the iconic moments you associate with the film are in the musical too.
Your tour guide back into the ’80s and through the Pretty Woman story is Happy Man, played by Kyle Taylor Parker, who also plays the manager of the Beverly Wilshire, Bernard Thomas. He guides you through following your dream, a recurring theme through the production.
The opening song, “Welcome to Hollywood” teleports you back in time through the choreography and the costumes, by Gregg Barnes, of the ensemble. The music itself has a bit of a late 80’s rock band sound to it that makes you want to clap along. Top that off with the stellar set, designed by David Rockwell, full of neon lights, an ATM, and a bus bench, the ’80s are alive and well in the theater.
Vivian Ward, played expertly by newcomer Oliva Valli, and Kit De Luca, played by Jessica Crouch, enter into the 1980’s wonderland, and the well-known storyline begins. Peppered with songs that portray the feelings of characters, the musical flows along and captivates you with its feeling of a contemporary romance. Oliva Valli brings Vivian to life, making her relatable through the quirkiness of the character and songs such as “Anywhere but Here” and “I Can’t Go Back”
“Pretty Woman” is full of many fun, comical moments as well as some bring the house down songs. Giulio, played by Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson, is a scene-stealer with his well-timed reactions and incredible dance number with Bernard Thomas.
Kit gets some of the best lines and some incredible portions of songs to sing. In “Luckiest Girl in the World” she comes into the Penthouse with Vivian and absolutely crushes her portion of the song. She also brings the swagger in “Rodeo Drive,” talking about the dream of shopping there.
The audience is offered a peek behind the facade of the character of Edward Lewis, played by Broadway superstar and Tony Award-nominee Adam Pascal, in the musical version. Through the songs “Something About Her” and “Freedom” we are introduced to how Vivian is slowly changing his perspective on life. And changing his life. Adam does a wonderful job of showing the slow transition in the character of Edward as the musical progresses.
It also must be mentioned that the scene at the opera is enchanting. Amma Osei and Christian Douglas are truly incredible. The set was minimal but so effective and powerful when paired with the costumes. I won’t go into more detail so I don’t ruin any potential surprises for anyone, but I had chills.
It would also be remiss of me to not mention the ensemble. From assisting the transitions between scenes to dancing their hearts out, they brought the energy and the love to the stage which only enhanced the love story between Edward and Vivian. While the costumes did a lot to bring the vibe of the 1980s to the stage, the ensemble embodied the attitude of the time while on stage too.
I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed this production. I will admit I went into this not sure what to expect from a musical based on a movie, but in the end I find myself listening to the soundtrack on repeat.