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Review: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at The Bushnell

Now on stage April 26th - May 1st, 2022, Read our critic's review!

Review: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at The Bushnell

I had the opportunity to see PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL, during its visit to The Bushnell in Hartford. Based on one of Hollywood's most beloved 1990's movies that launched America's sweetheart, Julia Roberts, into stardom, the musical's creative team is led by two-time Tony Award®-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde) and brought to the stage by lead producer Paula Wagner, featuring an original score by Grammy® winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance ("Summer of '69", "Heaven"), and a book by the movie's legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J. F. Lawton.

Fans of the movie will be happy to see that the story hasn't dramatically changed and includes all the fun, quotable lines (like, "Big Mistake. Huge!") and unforgettable moments, like the spicy piano scene. (Please note: This is not a kid-friendly show.) The show's sets were fun, fresh and, costuming, thankfully, featured the movie's iconic outfits and jewelry. The leading characters, Edward and Vivienne, haven't been changed, but the supporting characters have been developed and given a real chance to shine.

Review: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at The Bushnell

Pretty Woman: The Musical opened on Broadway in 2018 to a litany of negative reviews, quickly closing its doors in 2019. When I heard that a new tour was coming to The Bushnell, I was eager to see it and to make up my own mind. I never step foot into a theater with the intention of disliking a show and often disagree with critics, like many audiences. As a musical theater aficionado, I am the first in line for a CD (and t-shirt, if I love it) after final bows and I will play that soundtrack on repeat for weeks on end.

Pretty Woman: The Musical tour is stellar and received a standing ovation from our Wednesday night audience. While I enjoyed many individual performances in the production, I didn't buy the CD or the t-shirt. Based on my fellow audience members' enthusiasm, I can assure you: Audiences who loved the movie will generally enjoy this musical.

First, it is important to differentiate between a show and a production. Audiences embraced the 1990 movie because Julia Roberts charmed beyond compare, but if we think critically for even a moment, it is a deeply flawed story. The show's creative team had an opportunity to update and develop the story for a new generation. As it turns out, Pretty Woman: The Musical makes an attempt to redeem its predecessor, but sorely falls flat: the book and music are stunningly simplistic, lack originality and variation, and ultimately, leave much to be desired. However, it did spark meaningful conversation: How can we take an iconic, yet problematic, romantic comedy, and adapt it for the stage for 2022? What should we expect of movie musicals? Though I'm tempted to digress, I'll save that conversation for another day.

Glossing over the shortcomings of the material, we come to the more important point: Pretty Woman: The Musical tour cast is great. The impressive performers shined, displaying exemplary talent. Even though the music was not to my liking, I enjoyed their performances so much that I listened to the Original Broadway cast album and found myself especially missing the voices of Jessica Crouch (who plays Kit, Vivienne's best friend) and Kyle Taylor Parker's (Happy Man, a.k.a. the narrator and hotel concierge). I guarantee this cast is not only the best, but they are bringing their A+ game.

Trent Soyster (Escape to Margaritaville), captured hearts as Giulio the bellboy and had the crowd in the palm of his hand with the most charming, sweet expressions and perfect comedy timing. We were thrilled every time Soyster was on stage.

Review: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at The Bushnell

Kyle Taylor Parker livened up the crowd with his infectious energy and brilliant vocals as Happy Man (a.k.a. the narrator and hotel concierge).

Jessica Crouch (Pretty Woman, Broadway), has phenomenal, enviable vocal technique that goes on for days and I hope to see her featured in another role very soon.

Olivia Valli (Wicked 2nd National Tour), made the leading lady role her own and had a lovely voice.

Amma Osei (Rock of Ages) wowed the crowd and stole the entire opera scene with her powerful vocals and velvety tone.

Review: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at The Bushnell

When Adam Pascale (Broadway, Off-Broadway, and London productions of Rent) showcased his smooth rock inflections as Edward, it was a breath of fresh air.

That leaves us with the big question: Should you see Pretty Woman: The Musical at the Bushnell?

Do you want to see great actors giving wonderful vocal performances? Do you want to laugh, have fun, and relive the movie with fun extras?

If you said, "Yes," to all of the above, then absolutely see this tour.

If you're a theater buff hoping to add another great movie-turned-musical to your list of favorite shows or you're looking for a show to wow you with wonderful music and a thoughtfully updated the story for 2022, you won't find that here. Even still, you can go with your friends and have a good time. Later, you can have enthusiastic discussions about how you would have adapted this musical and that, in itself, is hours of entertainment money can't buy. Not even on Rodeo Drive.

Review: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at The Bushnell

Review: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at The Bushnell

Review: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at The Bushnell

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