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Home > Arts > REVIEW: “She Rescues Him Back” – But What More? <em>Pretty Woman: The Musical</em> (Orpheum/Hennepin Theatre Trust)

REVIEW: “She Rescues Him Back” – But What More? Pretty Woman: The Musical (Orpheum/Hennepin Theatre Trust)

Kyle Taylor Parker starred in Pretty Woman: The Musical, which played at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis in February. Photo by Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade.

Pretty Woman: The Musical follows what has become a steady diet of revamping successful movies into Broadway musicals. The 1990 movie was a big box office success, catapulting actor Julia Roberts to star status. For that film, J.F. Lawton wrote the screenplay and the late Garry Marshall directed the film. In a rare case of screenwriters translating their own work to the stage, Lawton and Marshall wrote the book for the musical version of Pretty Woman before Marshall passed away.

Who could write the music for an iconic film’s stage incarnation? For this, the creators turned to songwriting team Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, the authors of numerous songs for major rock groups in the 1980s and 1990s. Adams, who I remember as a solo singer in MTV videos, was one of the driving forces behind bringing Pretty Woman to the stage as a musical. Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed the show.

Jessica Crouch and Olivia Valli in Pretty Woman: The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade.

The book for this musical closely follows the original movie, but watching the musical Pretty Woman is a very different viewing experience. Both do share the overall plot about a wealthy businessman hiring a prostitute for a week to be his companion at business affairs. The odd couple fall in love and the only remaining question is, “Will they live happily ever after?” There is a noted difference tone: the movie had humorous moments, but the musical is an outright screw-ball comedy.

A major source of the humor is provided by of Olivia Vali, who plays Vivian (Julia Roberts’ character in the film). Vali is an exuberant and extremely amusing Vivian. Strongly supporting Vali with the humor is Kyle Taylor Parker, who plays the “Happy Man”: a magical street man who is looking out for Vivian. Parker also doubles as a hotel manager who treats Vivian with respect and gives her assistance. Vivian, Parker, and the hotel staff frequently engaged in hilarious tango dancing scenes that filled the Orpheum Theatre with uproarious audience laughter.

Adam Pascal in Pretty Woman: The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade.

Other performances come from Broadway veteran Adam Pascal, Jessica Crouch, and Matthtew Stock. Pascal plays Edward (Richard Gere’s role in the film). Pascal plays the financier with much more vulnerability and humor than Gere did. Crouc,h as Kit De Luca, Vivian’s friend, adds to the madcap nature of the show. As Adam’s ruthless attorney, Stock does well playing the villain and is the only non-comedic actor in the show.

David Rockwell’s colorful sets consists of the street scenes where Vivian plies her trade, snooty clothing stores on Rodeo drive and the lavish hotel penthouse. Gregg Barnes’ costume design also contributes to the colorful atmosphere. There is plenty of visual appeal: both my companion and I wanted to buy the pantsuit worn by Vivian.

The music is pleasant, but the songs are not memorable; where this show succeeds is as a hilarious comedy. Notably, after the curtain closed, many in the audience lingered to discuss how they enjoyed the show.

Adam Pascal and Olivia Valli starred in Pretty Woman: The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade.

Pretty Woman The Musical ran at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN from February 22-27, 2022.

Bev Wolfe