Nederlander Theatre, New York
The stage adaptation of the 1990 film Pretty Woman follows rich businessman Edward who hires Hollywood Boulevard sex worker Vivian for his six days in Los Angeles and, well, things go from there…
The storyline is problematic in a number of ways, mainly because it centres on a man being able to buy and control a woman whilst she can escape all her issues by using sex. However, in the musical’s book by Gary Marshall and JF Lawson, Vivian is self-reliant and assertive. In this show, it’s Edward who has more of a journey, struggling to face the world and relationships that come with it.
The musical takes almost every element of the film and transfers them to stage with pep and heart. All the famous one-liners are there and we are given an extra boost with the musical theatre-rock songs of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. The cast gives a sleek performance as well as providing spades of chemistry throughout.
As the leading lady in her Broadway debut, Samantha Barks is both fierce and vulnerable, supplying humour and spot-on vocals throughout. Her vocals from start to finish are faultless, with ‘I Can’t Go Back’ being a real memorable moment of the show. As her partner-in-crime, Andy Karl is sympathetic as Edward and the pair has incredible chemistry. Also stealing scenes are Orfeh who belts as if her life depends on it as best friend Kit; Eric Anderson as Happy Man/Mr Thompson who acts as the ever-present storyteller and Tommy Bracco who is completely hilarious as Giulio.
Mention must also go to Brian Cali and Allison Blackwell who give spine-tingling performances during the La Traviata scene and truly transport us to a grand opera.
Jerry Mitchell is following his winning screen to stage formula with this production and has provided a show which fans of the film will adore. The outstanding leads and tight ensemble make this a high-octane, fun for all show.