Review Roundup: What Did The Critics Think Of PRETTY WOMAN In Chicago; Updating Live!
The out of town tryout of PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL opened last night in Chicago!
Pretty Woman: THE MUSICAL stars Samantha Barks (Les Miserables) as 'Vivian' opposite Tony Award winner and Grammy Award winner Steve Kazee(Once) as 'Edward,' with Tony Award nominee Orfeh (Legally Blonde) as 'Kit,' Eric Anderson (Waitress) as 'Mr. Thompson,' Jason Danieley (The Full Monty) as 'Philip Stuckey,' and Kingsley Leggs (Sister Act) as 'James Morse' in a company of 24 that includes Allison Blackwell, Tommy Bracco, Brian Calí, Robby Clater, Jessica Crouch, Anna Eilinsfeld, Matt Farcher, Lauren Lim Jackson, Renée Marino, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Jillian Mueller, Jake Odmark, Jennifer Sanchez, Matthew Stocke, Alex Michael Stoll, Alan Wiggins, Jesse McGraw Wildman and Darius Wright.
PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL has original music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner Bryan Adams and his longtime songwriting partner Jim Vallance, book by Garry Marshall and the film's screenwriter J.F. Lawton, and is directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell.
PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL has scenic design by David Rockwell, costume design by Gregg Barnes, lighting design by Kenneth Posner & Philip S. Rosenberg, sound design by John Shivers, hair design by Josh Marquette, music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Will Van Dyke, and casting by Telsey + Company. 101 Productions, Ltd.is the Executive Producer and General Manager.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: In its best moments-and there is a lot of good stuff here, not the least of which is a fresh, genie-like narrator very amusingly played by Eric Anderson -"Pretty Woman" evokes the true thrill of coming from nothing and suddenly landing in, well, Beverly Hills. Adams and Vallance have written several populist songs on that "My Fair Lady" theme: "Anywhere But Here," "Look at Me Now," "This is My Life." Barks can really pull off that class differential without patronizing stereotype (and so can the great Orfeh, who plays a character not dissimilar from her memorably boffo turn in "Legally Blonde" and every bit as fun). Barks really earns her paycheck on "I Can't Go Back," another hot number on a list of 18 pretty creditable originals, quite varied in style and nary a one from the massive Adams backlist.
Kris Vire, Time Out: The musical's book is credited to original screenwriter J.F. Lawton and the late Garry Marshall, who directed the film and passed away in 2016. The writers don't seem to have done much to transform their existing script, apart from creating space to insert (not integrate) the musical numbers; otherwise, the musical hits all the same beats as the movie, often verbatim. (The one theatrical invention is to combine Mr. Thompson, the discreet hotel manager played in the movie by Hector Elizondo, and the Hollywood-map hawking "Happy Man" into a single fourth-wall-breaking role, played here by Eric Anderson as a kind of winking, puckish fairy godfather.)
Steven Oxman, Variety: The lack of creativity surrounding her only makes Barks' performance more noteworthy. As long as she's onstage, lovingly playing a character who can giggle at the opening of a jewelry box, well up watching the opera, wear the famed dresses (costume designer Gregg Barnes knows the audience wants to see the original red one) with grace, and just generally express vulnerable small-town humility amidst the polo match and Rodeo Drive settings, the show fundamentally flows.
Miriam Di Nunzio, Chicago Sun-Times: There is so much to like here, starting with Samantha Barks, whose portrayal of Vivian, the prostitute with a heart of gold, is every bit as endearing on stage as Julia Roberts' was on film. Barks' megawatt smile lights up the stage, her powerhouse voice packs an emotional punch to every note she sings, especially with the anthem-like "This Is My Life" and "I Can't Go Back." As Edward, Tony Award winner Steve Kazee is still finding his way out from under the shadow of Richard Gere, but he's on the cusp. Part of the problem may be that stage Edward, a multi-millionaire-turned-prince charming, is almost too dysfunctional to rescue the enchanting Vivian. Kazee has a captivating stage presence, and his gorgeous singing voice delivers the show's hauntingly beautiful ballad "You and I" with plenty of conviction and sincerity.
Misha Davenport, BroadwayWorld: A bigger issue is really the book (written by the screenwriters of the film, J.F. Lawton and the late Garry Marshall). There is the beginnings of a romantic musical here, but only if the show somehow manages to free itself from the shackles of faithfully recreating the iconic movie moments. When you see Vivian emerge wearing that red dress and white gloves (Gregg Barnes is credited with the costume designs for the show), you know the necklace scene is due. She reaches for the diamond necklace, Edward snaps the lid close and she laughs. The moment arrives with such anticipation, it feels stilted and not the least bit organic to the moment.
Jennifer Stevenson, Book View Cafe: Allison Blackwell sings a stunning Violetta in the excerpt from Traviata. With Vivian, we are transfixed by the drama and musical power of Blackwell's performance. She hangs about onstage for much of the show, then gets into her purple dress and-pow! Orfeh kills the Kit DeLuca role with a grand mezzo voice that adds authority to her world-weary hooker-mentor role. I think she strengthens the film version of Kit.
Alan Bresloff, Around the Town Chicago: I don't think it will win any Tony Awards, but for those who loved the movie ( about half of the audience knew every scene) this is a must-see. The nice part of the show is that even if you never saw the original movie or even were aware of the storyline, this production would make for an evening of solid entertainment. Yes, the theme is adult and there is some adult language, but to be honest, I think most 8 years olds know more "swear words" than we do.
Carole Kuhrt Brewer, Chicago Now: Tony Award nominee Orfeh (Legally Blonde) nailed the role of 'Kit.' Eric Anderson (Waitress) was believable and likeable as 'Mr. Thompson.' Rounding out the all-star cast are: Jason Danieley (The Full Monty) as 'Philip Stuckey,' and Kingsley Leggs (Sister Act) as 'James Morse' and a top-notch ensemble of 24 that includes Allison Blackwell, Tommy Bracco, Brian Calì, Robby Clater, Jessica Crouch, Anna Eilinsfeld, Matt Farcher, Lauren Lim Jackson, Renée Marino, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Jillian Mueller, Jake Odmark, Jennifer Sanchez, Matthew Stocke, Alex Michael Stoll, Alan Wiggins, Jesse Wildman and Darius Wright
Stay tuned for more reviews!