Pretty Woman The Musical Review
Given how famous the Pretty Woman film is most people will be familiar with the rich guy buys a week with a prostitute who makes him open up his heart. Seeing it on stage it reminds me of another iconic movie from that era. Dirty Dancing decided to take the film and put it on stage scene for scene and ended up with a mediocre stage show. With Pretty Woman they have taken a slightly different approach by turning it into a musical but it has similar results.
They haven’t looked to change or update any of the story, so it feels almost like the film with music, just with a few scenes amended to be more effective in the theatre (notably there aren’t any cars on stage). They have managed to incorporate all the classic moments that you remember from the film and fans will get what they’re looking for from a stage adaptation. What is most surprising is the message behind it. Having not seen it for a while I’d forgotten how anti-feminist the story. It is essentially about someone who, despite all her strengths, needs a man to rescue her, her rescuing right back notwithstanding. And the iconic “Big Mistake” scene (which was our favourite from the film) is actually a classic example of women tearing each other down rather than building each other up. There was no attempt to address or change any of this. While remaking it as a musical they did not remake the message.
The role of Vivan is an iconic role which comes with a lot of expectations. Aimie Atkinson, fresh from a wonderful run as Katherine Howard, dons the leather boots and denim skirt and smashes it. She has a beautiful mix of vulnerability and strength. She manages to add her own spin on the role while not disappointing fans of the film. She makes Vivian absolutely cute as button with some perfect comedy moments.
However, Danny Mac as Edward is less convincing. He’s made into a weak one-dimensional character and despite the journey he’s meant to go on during the show you don’t see any change in the way the character is played at any point. Part of the issue is the script and lyrics although there isn't any depth to the portrayal and with the singing you’re always a little nervous when he gets to the high notes.
But there are two amazing performances in the show that have to be called out. Rachael Wooding as Vivian’s roommate Kit has the best voice in the production and is woefully underused. The other star is the scene stealing Bellboy. He gets most of the shows laughs and his dance breaks were a highlight.
Being a musical obviously the music is important but it’s not memorable and there is no consistent sound running through the songs or any particular hook. You can tell it’s written by someone used to writing individual songs as opposed to a collection. But people are going for the feel-good factor and in that respect it’s perfectly serviceable. It has fun choreography with really cheesy moments, perfectly capturing the mood of the film and what the audience is there for. The silhouettes created via lighting at the opening are a great image. And there are some noticeable cuts from the Broadway production helping it flow better.
But there are also some missed opportunities. Most of the script is lifted from the film and on stage you realise how terrible it is. This could have been updated much more. There are simple things missed in the set that needn’t be expensive. For example the Hollywood stars could have been added to the stage via lighting rather than having the actors point at nothing. And the styling is confused at times. I was particularly bemused as to why they had Oliver!’s Fagin show up as the pseudo narrator.
Despite these flaws however it’s definitely fun for a night out with friends and a few drinks (not too many before the show!). It won’t be for everyone but those going to see it know what to expect. And I’ll admit I want to go back before it’s year run is up. This show gets 3 stars.