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Review Roundup: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL Opens on the West End - See What the Critics Are Saying!


Aimie Atkinson and Danny Mac star as 'Vivian Ward' and 'Edward Lewis' in the West End production of PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL. The show began performances at London's Piccadilly Theatre on 13 February, and it had its official opening tonight (2 March).

PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL features original music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, a book by Garry Marshall and the film's screenwriter J.F. Lawton, it is directed and choreographed by the two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell.

Featured in the musical is Roy Orbison and Bill Dee's international smash hit song 'Oh, Pretty Woman' which inspired one of the most beloved romantic comedy films of all time. Pretty Woman the film (produced by Arnon Milchan - New Regency Productions) was an international smash hit when it was released in 1990.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Caroline Cronin, BroadwayWorld: Much has been made in the media of how a 90s film would translate onto the stage for a modern audience, and I am inclined to err in favour of the production on this one. Certain iconic scenes have been reimagined to put Vivian in a position of power, rather than being submissive, and there's a particularly delightful dance break (led by the absolutely glorious Bob Harms as the hotel manager, among other roles) featuring a same-sex tango which shouldn't be revolutionary to witness...but it is important to note. Is the book formulaic? Yes, rather - this show won't move mountains, shake emotions or win awards. But it hits a sweet spot that the average theatregoer is looking for.

Natasha Tripney, The Stage: Jerry Mitchell's production opts for replication of the source material rather than re-imagination. It does not tinker, it does not deconstruct. It makes only a handful of concessions to the fact it's been remade for the stage and these mostly involve dancing bellboys. Aimie Atkinson gives a game, sweetly gawky performance as Vivian, in her thigh-high PVC boots, thrusting her rear towards Danny Mac's handsome but oddly presence-less Edward, but this isn't a fight she can win.

Sarah Crompton, What'sOnStage: In fairness to the leads, they've been given too little to work with courtesy of a book written by Garry Marshall (the film's director) and J F Lawton and songs by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance that make no attempt to reshape the movie's pernicious assumption that while Vivian can help Edward find his soul, he can make her happy simply by offering a lot of shopping opportunities and pretending to be a knight on a white horse.

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: The show disdains mining the subject matter for darkness and difficulty, instead fetishising the humongous cell-phones of yesteryear and half-celebrating the pre-Tinder age of spontaneous encounters. There's energy aplenty from Bob Harms as an absurdly welcoming street bum who chameleon-shifts into various roles, including the fastidious manager of the Beverly Wilshire hotel, with scene-stealing twinkling support from a camp bellhop (Alex Charles). Snatches of Roy Orbison's Pretty Woman tease us before that golden oldie is finally played at curtain-call. After that you're out on the sidewalk, feeling (unless you're the most forgiving and/or financially well-endowed fan) pretty fleeced.

Clive Davis: The Times: Someone, somewhere, is no doubt writing a PhD on what this tells us about the state of modern feminism. The main news, however, is that, even if Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance's songs are no match for Roy Orbison's classic anthem, they are more tuneful than you might have expected, while Danny Mac and Aimie Atkinson make a likeable pairing as Edward and Vivian. If you're not a fan of the film, there is no reason to buy a ticket for Jerry Mitchell's production. But if you're seeking to relive popcorn memories, you will have fun muttering along with the romcom's snappiest lines.

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian: Can the story still win us over? Not exactly. This feels like a shallow and at times tasteless show but, within the rules of a romcom, it works in its central, schmaltzy storyline of love despite the odds. There is also some attempt, however bolted on, to update the story's sexual politics.

Alexandra Pollard, The Independent: There are a whole lot of men behind Pretty Woman: The Musical. Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance wrote the songs. Garry Marshall and JF Lawton - the duo behind the popular 1990 film - wrote the script. Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed. You have to get past 22 Jims, Jerrys and Johns before a single female name appears on the credited creative team - US props supervisor Kathleen Fabian. This might explain why this new musical, which opened in the US in 2018 before closing a year later, offers up such a shallow and outdated vision of sex work, female agency and womanhood.

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard: Yes, it's a musical about prostitution, but this adaptation of the 1990 Julia Roberts/Richard Gere rom-com is a triumph of exuberant zest over dodgy subject matter. It matches the charm of the film but has a subversive energy all its own.

Matt Wolf, theartsdesk: The Bryan Adams-Jim Vallance score mostly belabours the obvious, announcing again and again a prevailing restlessness to both Edward and Vivian, the first of whom sings a repeated paean to "freedom" which in context seems to imply the ability to let Vivian run wild with his credit card: so much for her as an enlightened, independent woman for our time. Vivian sings endlessly of wanting something better - "I'm not this girl," she lets us know early on - which in context results in her emergence as a vapid scrounger. Still, it could have been worse: she might have married Donald Trump.

Mark Shenton: LondonTheatre: In the late Garry Marshall and JF Lawson's book (who respectively directed and wrote the original film), it is the woman who holds the cards - and the man who has the bigger journey to travel, from self-imposed isolation to finding real love. It's a relationship that ends up transforming them both - he even ends up making different, more moral business choices, too.

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