Piccadilly Theatre, London
While retaining many of the elements from the film, the musical also adds a few new elements to make it feel contemporary.
Suitably romantic and updated to make it feel more contemporary, Pretty Woman the Musical has plenty to recommend it in terms of music and characterisations to make for a feel-good show.
Based on the 1990 film, the story revolves around a chance encounter between down-on-her-luck Vivian Ward and billionaire Edward Lewis who hires her to escort him to a number of business events during his stay in L.A. But as they spend more time together, their relationship begins to change and they learn more about what they want from life as well.
Featuring a book by the director of the film Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton who wrote the original screenplay, the musical is as much about dreams and ambitions as it is about the central relationship between Vivian and Edward, that adds depth to the story and characterisations. Yes, a lot of the script features lines familiar to fans from the film, but thanks to the way in which Jerry Mitchell presents the story, it feels refreshing and new. In particular the scene in which Vivian explains how she ended up in L.A through ‘This is My Life’ is heartfelt and makes you sit up and pay attention.
Meanwhile, the book also rather pleasingly develops the characters of Kit and Mr Thompson and explores Vivian’s relationship with them further, leading to some lovely moments – such as when Mr Thompson helps Vivian learn to dance and sort out an outfit for her first dinner with Edward.
But it is musically where the show really shines. Featuring music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, the score has many highlights that work well within the story including the gorgeous ‘You and I’ and ‘You’re Beautiful’ that are suitably romantic. But there is also some great uptempo numbers such as ‘Rodeo Drive’ performed with great gusto by Rachael Wooding’s sassy Kit. Each song successfully adds depth to the story, while driving it forward.
While there are moments of the story that feel slightly rushed so that it can reach an iconic moment, for the most part the show is nicely paced and slick from start to finish. Visually, David Rockwell’s set design and costume design by Tom Rogers is bold and colourful, with the costumes in particular reflecting the original film but with a contemporary twist that are pleasing to the eye and still capture the characters individual style.
The cast are also very impressive, with Aimie Atkinson really impressing as Vivian capturing her development from a lost soul to someone who sets out to follow her dreams. It is a spirited and immensely impressive performance – especially when it comes to her rendition of ‘I Can’t Go Back’ which is a real highlight. Danny Mac is a perfect match as Edward, capturing his charm but also the persona of a man used to being in control until Vivian helps him realise there is more to life, with the introspective performance of ‘Freedom’ highlighting this. The chemistry between them is natural and convincing.
But there is also great support from Rachael Wooding who delivers a warm performance as the street smart and immensely likeable Kit, Bob Harms as the charismatic Mr Thompson and Alex Charles puts in a memorable performance as Giulio. The cast all work really well to bring this story to life.
While Pretty Woman the Musical may have softened some of the more gritty elements of the story to broaden the appeal of the story, it is an ultimate feel-good show that makes you fall in love with the story all over again.
By Emma Clarendon
Pretty Woman the Musical continues to play at the Piccadilly Theatre. To book tickets click here or visit: Love Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct, West End Theatre Breaks, Last Minute.com, Encore Tickets, See Tickets or From the Box Office.