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Pretty Woman The Musical

Pretty Woman The Musical

Big night out. Big. HUGE. Pretty Woman: The Musical is finally embarking on a UK and Ireland tour – so make a date to see Hollywood’s ultimate rom-com, live on stage, when this smash-hit musical tours the UK.

Once upon a time in the late ’80s, Vivian met Edward and her life changed forever. Be swept up in their romance in this dazzlingly theatrical take on a love story for the ages – and get to know these iconic characters in a whole new way – in a sensational show that took London’s West End by storm, guaranteed to lift your spirits and light up your heart.

Introducing Paige Fenlon as Vivian, Ore Oduba as Happy Man/Mr Thompson and Oliver Savile as Edward – who’ll be starring alongside original SIX: the Musical queen Natalie Paris as Kit de Luca in the cast.

With a blazing rock score from Grammy® winners Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (Summer of ’69, Heaven), direction and choreography by Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray) and a book by the original movie’s director Garry Marshall & screenwriter J.F. Lawton, a powerhouse creative team representing the best of music, Hollywood and Broadway ensures you’ll have a pretty magical time at Pretty Woman: The Musical. 

Age guidance 12+ Contains some moderate sexual references

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Our review on Pretty Woman The Musical

Pretty Woman The Musical - Palace Theatre, Manchester - Tuesday 27th February 2024 by Christa Norton

Our Rating

Controversial opinion, but I don’t think Pretty Woman is a fairytale. I know, it has so many of the hallmarks: the handsome prince; a ghastly lawyer - sorry, villain; and of course a strong minded heroine at the centre. I’ve read more than one article that refers to Pretty Woman as the epitome of the modern fairytale. But this is a massive disservice to the character of Vivian who, for me, has much more in common with a ballsy Moll Flanders than she does with the likes of Snow White or Cinderella. Indeed, as Vivian herself says, ‘Who would want to be Cinderella anyway?’.

For this reason I have always been a huge fan of the film. Julia Roberts’ uncompromising Vivian, who knows and owns her own mind regardless of her job, was always a wonderful breath of fresh air and for me, the film remains relevant even 30 odd years later.

Yet there must have been huge temptation for Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance to take this path when adapting this iconic film into a musical - the formula lends itself so easily to a fairytale, especially those soul stirring ballads and uplifting set pieces. 

So I must admit I had mixed feelings as I arrived to see the opening night of this production of Pretty Woman The Musical.  I needn’t have worried. This is a rip roaring production that is steeped in the 80s, dripping with glitz and glamour, and delivered with panache by its exceptionally talented cast.

Pretty Woman The Musical faithfully follows the story of the original film. Our heroine, Vivian Ward, is a prostitute working on Sunset Boulevard whose chance encounter with billionaire Edward Lewis changes both their lives. Whilst principally a love story about two people from different backgrounds who find their way to each other, the tale doesn’t shy away from more difficult topics, including misogyny, financial influence, class, and the destructive power of greed.

I absolutely loved Paige Fenlon’s (The Scouse Dick Wittington, Oklahoma, Zorro) performance of Vivian. I can only imagine the trepidation in trying to step into the shoes – or indeed the knee high boots – of Julia Roberts. Yet Fenlon’s Vivian is utterly charming. She easily moves between sweet and flirty, between vulnerable and determined; she is incredibly easy to watch and has a megawatt smile that means you cannot help liking her. And all that before she sings – what an incredible voice! Her performance of ‘I Can’t Go Back’ in the second half was immense, filling the theatre with notes held much longer than the cheering audience thought possible.

The chemistry between her and co star Ben Darcy (Aladdin, Mamma Mia, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) is wonderful. Darcy’s Edward is perhaps not quite the corporate shark of the film, his character journey from nasty to nice a little less drastic, but it is still interesting to watch the change in his personality unfold. The musical gives him a number of ballads which make it clear that – unlike the film – he begins to fall for Vivian almost as soon as he has met her, which perhaps on reflection undermines the ending a little, but I was enjoying his performance too much to really notice. Darcy’s voice is another powerhouse, a silky and seductive voice that suited the character brilliantly.

Natalie Paris
(Six The Musical, Les Miserables, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) plays Kit de Luca, Vivian’s rock chick friend and fellow prostitute. Paris delivers a phenomenal performance, unapologetically bold and brash, decked out in a leather jacket and with possibly a whole can of hairspray in her hair as she belts out 80s-inspired rock anthems such as ‘Never Give Up on a Dream’.

If the audience were having fun, that is nothing compared to the fun that Ore Oduba (Strictly Come Dancing, Noughts + Crosses, Hardball, BBC Radio 2) was having on stage. Playing a number of roles, including but not limited to Happy Man and Mr Thompson, Oduba repeatedly breaks the fourth wall to bring the audience in on jokes as he sings and dances his way through routine after routine. Every part of his performance was joyous, but my favourite moment has to be ‘On a Night Like Tonight’ where he gives a dance lesson to Vivian – with the aide of Giulio the Bellboy, played by Noah Harrison (42nd Street, Grease).

And this, for me, was the stand out performance of the night. Harrison’s performance had me in tears of laughter practically every time he was on stage. From his awkward yet increasingly flamboyant tango with Oduba to his pas de deux with a mop, his physical comedy is simply brilliant.

For me, much of the success of this production is that a huge amount of thought and consideration has gone into the creation of Pretty Woman The Musical. As a musical, we were always going to be safe in the hands of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, but the songs are genuinely epic numbers that stand up in their own right. Adams leverages a variety of genres from the 80s - from big rock anthems to pop numbers to rap – to help create a sense of nostalgia that underpins the entire production, and I found myself hearing echoes of everyone from Bon Jovi to Bonnie Tyler – and of course Adams himself.  The live band - conducted by Griff Johnson – definitely helped give the sense of a live concert.

In another example, I thought it was incredibly effective to incorporate a live performance of excepts from La Traviata for the opera scene. Trained singers Lila Falce-Bass (professional debut) and Josh Damer-Jennings (The Addams Family, Mary Poppins) perform La Traviata’s Violetta and Alfredo respectively and the scene is used to echo the way Edward and Vivian are falling in love; hearing the operatic arias sung live really added to the emotion of this scene.

The 80s theme carries on throughout all other aspects of the production. The catwalk set during the ‘Rodeo Drive’ number referenced the very best of 80s couture and styles, with the chorus donning everything from the most enormous of shoulder pads to of course the obligatory pink hotpants. Make up is dripping with blue and pink pastels, and I can only imagine the amount of hairspray being used for each show. Even props were well considered, with Edward using the most enormous brick of a mobile phone.

Pretty Woman The Musical does deal with some difficult topics and – like the film - does include some moments of mild sexual content, meaning I wouldn’t recommend this production for children or younger teens, but otherwise this is a must-see for fans of the film, fans of the 80s or indeed anyone who wants to watch a fabulous production full of great music and great performances.



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