Ahead of the musical opening in London, Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon listened to the Broadway cast recording.
It must be extremely difficult to come up with an original score for a new musical based on a hugely popular Hollywood film, while still retaining mainly elements that made people fall in love with the story in the first place. But here, Bryan Adams and long time collaborator Jim Vallance have enough confidence in their music and songs to ensure that the spirit of the film is still retained with a bit more of a contemporary twist.
The one thing that the album highlights is just how much of the film’s original script is used (perhaps not a surprise considering the book was written by the film’s director Garry Marshall and original screen writer J.F Lawton) to offer familiarity and comfort to the fans of the film. It is a slight shame as this could have been a great opportunity to offer new insight into the story and characters with a new script – but overall, understandable why they wanted to stick to the original.
There are certainly plenty of highlights in terms of songs, with wistful but powerful numbers such as ‘Anywhere But Here’ and ‘This is My Life’ making a real impact – thanks to Samantha Barks and her naturally powerful vocals and performance hitting all the right spots. On the other side of this, there are songs which don’t really help to push the story forward – in particular ‘Rodeo Drive’ feels like a random addition and ‘Luckiest Girl in the World’ just doesn’t feel as though it works in the context of the story.
As already mentioned, Barks is a delight to listen, offering plenty of warmth to the character but also strength and resilience that is wonderfully made clear during ‘This is My Life’. Elsewhere, Andy Karl makes for a suitably charismatic Edward, with his renditions of ‘You’re Beautiful’ and ‘You and I’ proving to be real strong highlights of the show. This is of course full credit to Bryan Adams who knows how to deliver a romantic song as we all know through thanks to ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It for You’. Eric Anderson also impresses as the hotel manager on the gorgeous sounding ‘On a Night Like Tonight’ , while Orfeh certainly manages to hold her own in the rock inspired ‘Rodeo Drive’.
Overall, this an album that retains the spirit of the original story but also makes it soar higher thanks to the high quality of the music and lyrics
By Emma Clarendon
Pretty Woman the Musical will open for previews in February at the Piccadilly Theatre.