Review: PRETTY WOMAN at Bass Concert Hall

Musical Adaptation of the film now onstage at Bass Concert Hall gets the job done, but that’s about it.

By: Jan. 19, 2023
Review: PRETTY WOMAN at Bass Concert Hall
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It's not that PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL is necessarily worthy of a terribly poor review, but it's not worthy of a good one either. Does it get the job done? Is it a musical? Was it executed well? Is the talent up to the task? Yes, to all these. But that's about where the good work ends. There's well directed talent up there on stage, but the book and undistinguished lyrics aren't a big help.

Adapted from the film starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, the book is lifted directly from the movie, credited to Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton. These are the same writers of the screenplay so, you might expect, and you'd be right, that it's essentially the same romantic comedy as the film. The show is given the musical treatment with music and lyrics by Bryan Adams (Yes! Bryan Adams!) and his long time collaborator Jim Vallance. Described by some as a "modern day Cinderella story," PRETTY WOMAN follows the same plot, down to the same gags and lines, as the film. Prostitute Vivian (played in this production by Carissa Gaughran, who stepped in for the billed Jessie Davidson) and Edward Lewis (Adam Pascal) meet when Edward gets lost and Vivian helps him out. He hires her to keep him company for the week and Pygmalian type issues and comedy ensues. Sorta.

PRETTY WOMAN, the film, is yes, a romantic comedy, but translating the film from the 1990's into a 21st century musical is just too tall of an order. There's romantic comedy, and then there's a romantic comedy about a prostitute who manages to land a week-long trick who falls for her and uses his money to help change her status. "It's cringey," in 2023. Add that in this production it looks like an older rich man falls for a younger woman. I recommend you don't think too hard on that. Instead, you can concentrate on the positive aspects of this production.

The cast pulls its weight. The staging is swift and snappy. Oh, that every local production could choreograph a set change so well. But this is a low bar for a professional musical. No performance can fix the pedestrian music provided by Adams, hard as they may try. And these performers tried.

Despite the handicap of living up to such well known comparisons, the actors do their best to make the characters their own. Particular standouts are Jessica Crouch as Kit, Travis Ward-Osborne as Happy Man and the entire hotel staff, particularly the Guilio the bellhop (Trent Soyster) who pulls off some great dancing and crowd pleasing physical comedy. Oh that the whole of this show could sparkle like Trent! Indeed, during "On A Night Like Tonight," I started to enjoy myself, hoping for more of the same as the show progressed. Unfortunately, it just never gelled for me.

There's music and dancing and choreography and a familiar plot. You may be a fan of Bryan Adams or the film, and could find the musical compelling for these reasons. For the rest of us, PRETTY WOMAN is just a questionably adequate adaptation of a fondly remembered movie. And it's just too dated to work twenty three years into the 21st century.

Without the backing and support of some big names, I can safely presume PRETTY WOMAN wouldn't have seen the light of day as an original concept. I tried to like it. I didn't hate it. That's the trouble with PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL. It's the equivalent of that average uninspired employee that you can't terminate because they show up and do the work. It gets the job done, but that's about it.


Book by Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton

Music and Lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance

Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell

Bass Concert Hall

January 17-22

Tickets available here


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