Book: Garry Marshall & J.F. Lawton
Music & Lyrics: Bryan Adams & Jim Vallance
Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Director: Jerry Mitchell
Based on the 1990 smash hit movie of the same name, the musical theatre iteration of Pretty Woman has arrived in Glasgow for a two-week run. Neophyte sex worker Vivian (Amber Davies) looking to find the money for her rent, bags a deal to escort cut-throat businessman Edward as his arm candy for week. Such as it always is in rom-coms, fair maiden Vivian has met her Prince Charming and the business deal soon turns into love.
While at best an entertaining piece of fluff, it’s certainly not going to bother any of your brain cells and its ultimately a pale shadow of the film that shot Julia Roberts to superstardom.
The problems are generally two-fold, the subject matter is bordering on unpalatable, and a bit too simplistically drawn for the 2000s (the source material is after all 33 years old and the writing of female characters has hopefully moved on – rich man rescues poor woman – come on) and the central pairing lack the requisite chemistry to light a spark under the boringly written book.
Oliver Savile’s Edward is beautifully sung, but the writing renders a usually strong stage presence to a bit of a wimp and Davies as Vivian, doesn’t have the required comedy acting, dancing or vocal skills to make a mark. She belts out a few of her tunes with gusto but the overall tone and control are reedy and thin. At times she looks as if she’s dialling in her performance from the dressing room.
Most successful are the supporting cast, Ore Oduba shines as Happy Man our narrator and Beverly Wiltshire Hotel boss Mr. Thompson (milking his success in Strictly Ballroom to good effect), however his diction at the start is a little garbled, that said, his singing voice is surprisingly strong. His side kick Giulio the Bellboy (Noah Harrison) provides the much needed, albeit broad slapstick comedy to the proceedings. Natalie Paris is, as always, an utter knock-out in the vocal department and delivers a 3D portrayal of her character Kit, fellow hooker and Vivian’s best friend. It is a pity she’s not on stage for longer. Of note too is ensemble member Lila Falce-Bass whose vocals as Violetta in the La Traviata opera night are impressive as are her fellow singers in this scene. The supporting cast are generally excellent and soar when singing as one. The choreography isn’t particularly original or taxing and is competently executed throughout. The set is minimal, budget certainly hasn’t been spent making it look rich and opulent, but it largely works, if a little visually boring.
The Bryan Adam’s songs all bear the hallmark of Bryan Adams, with some pinching some familiar sounding moments from his bigger hits. They are overall lacking in variety of style and tone, there are too many reprises of previous tunes, none strong enough to withstand listening to again.
Ultimately, Pretty Woman The Musical is un-taxing, undemanding fluff that will take your mind off the approaching winter nights to come. However, it is unfortunately another example of how not all successful movies should attempt to make the transition from screen to stage.
Runs until 25 November 2023 | Image: Contributed