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Review: PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL at KC Music Hall

Review: PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL at KC Music Hall

through Dec 11

The American Theatre Guild opened its touring production of "Pretty Woman The Musical" Tuesday evening at the Music Hall in Kansas City for a one week run.

"Pretty Woman The Musical" showed off a super cast and very high production values. The cast makes the most of the material. It is an entertainment well enough appreciated to receive an extended and enthusiastic standing ovation.

This incarnation faithfully follows the plotline of the 1990 romantic comedy starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. It surprises in that its outrageous premise works after adding all the Broadway razzmatazz.

Vivian and Edward at the Opera
Vivian sees her first opera on Edward's arm.
Photo by Matthew Murphy

"Pretty Woman The Musical" is a theatrical anachronism in many ways. It works particularly well as a fun evening measured against the political and social turmoil that swirls the country more than thirty years following the film version.

"Pretty Woman" tells the tale of a stilted Wall Street Vulture Capitalist named Edward Lewis (Adam Pascal) as he lands in Los Angeles to close a typical big deal. Edward is an unlikely fish out of water. Almost by accident, he hires an LA streetwalker (with a heart of gold) named Vivian Ward (Jessie Davidson) to give him directions.

Predictably, they click, fall in love, he reforms, and they literally ride off into the sunset. That this worked in 1990 is a testament to the original performers. That it still works in 2022 in the era of Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, and "Me Too" is remarkable.

"Pretty Woman" works as well as it does because it does not take itself very seriously. The show opens on Hollywood Avenue with a huge production number populated by outlandish hookers and street people. These production extravaganzas continue for no apparent reason at intervals throughout the show. They remind me of the kind of experience you might have had watching an old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie updated.

The musical score by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance is undistinguished, but serviceable. Write big production number here.... Insert ballad there... Finale torch song here.... Audience sing-a-long to Roy Orbison during the curtain call to finish. Oddly, the score seems just a touch out of sync with the rest of the production. It is as if the beat and orchestration are somehow about twenty-five years more current than the rest of the show.

What is absolutely on point is the casting and performances by Davidson and Pascal. They are joined by an enthusiastic ensemble and over the top characterizations by Jessica Crouch as Vivian's friend Kit and Kyle Taylor Parker as Happy.

Review: PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL at KC Music Hall
Act II finale with the cast of "Pretty Woman The Musical"
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Sets and set pieces are well constructed and fly in and out on cue. There are even a couple of blackouts and use of the huge act curtain which you almost never see today.

As I look back over this piece, it sounds like I am knocking it. I'm not. "Pretty Woman The Musical" is light, fluffy faire and a return to "musical comedy" from high concept theatre pieces. I'm sure you will enjoy yourself. But then I like watching "Two and a Half Men" reruns too.

"Pretty Woman The Musical" continues at the Music Hall through Sunday, December 11. Tickets are available at www.americantheatreguild.com or by telephone at 816-982-2787.



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From This Author - Alan Portner

Al Portner is regional editor for Broadway World – Kansas City.  He is a retired career journalist and media executive who has written for publication over more than 40 years. Portner ha... (read more about this author)


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