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Broadway Beyond Louisville Review: PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL at The Aronoff Center

Now running through October 31st at The Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, OH

Pretty WomanBack in April of 2020 if you had told me my first show back would be Pretty Woman, and that it wouldn't be for 18 months, I don't entirely know if I would've believed it. It's been quite some time since I had the privilege of sitting in the audience of a Broadway show, and that honor isn't lost on me one bit. On Tuesday, October 19th I attended the grand reopening of Cincinnati's Aronoff Center, marking their first night back with a Broadway tour as well as mine. If anything has been learned from the last year and a half, it's to roll with the punches and adapt as we go, and adapting is the key word when it comes to reopening our stages safely and responsibly.

When I arrived at the theatre I was promptly asked for my proof of vaccination as well as my personal ID, while this is an extra step, I feel like the venue was well equipped and moved things along quickly. I took my seat, mask and all, and let myself experience the magic of musical theatre for the first time in a VERY long time.

I had seen Pretty Woman in it's pre-broadway ideration back in 2018. It's based on the classic film in which a call girl falls in love with a wealthy businessman, but the stakes are high because you constantly wonder what will happen if their two worlds collide. I won't get into much detail about the plot (if you haven't seen the film Pretty Woman, it's probably playing on TBS as you're reading this review).

The cast is led by relative newcomer Olivia Valli as Vivian. This show is her first leading role having been an ensemble player in various companies over the last few years. I cannot overstate how perfect Valli is in the role. Vocally she's stunning, but what makes this combination of performer and role such a match made in heaven is the fact that Valli brings an unmatched level of charm, wit, spunk, and grit to the role. Those qualities are what bring Vivian to life, and Valli embodies them all with her own delightful brand of flair and attitude. Opposite Valli is theatre vet Adam Pascal as our leading man Edward Lewis. Edward isn't my favorite character, and this adaptation of the story paints him in ways that lack dimension, but in Pascal's case, a good performer is able to find the good in subpar material. He and Valli had a great rapport and chemistry, and Pascal's voice ages like a fine wine, his soulful rock signature style is on full display when he gets his moments to shine.

In the supporting cast we have Jessica Crouch as Vivian's friend and confidant Kit and Kyle Taylor Parker as "Happy Man" (no really, that's his character's name in the Playbill). Crouch does solid work and has absolutely amazing vocals when given the chance to showcase them, and Taylor Parker is a true delight as his character(s) weave throughout the story. The company is rounded out by a fierce ensemble who were top notch vocally and executed director Jerry Mitchell's signature high energy style of choreography without a flaw.

The costumes were nice, but I must admit lacked the wow factor you might expect from a big flashy musical based on one of the most beloved films within American pop culture. The sets while serviceable did feel a bit cheap at times, as some were a bit more sparse than others. The music is pleasant enough, but the songs aren't destined to be remembered as some of the best musical theatre has seen, and the same could be said for the book which feels like a very direct adaptation of the film, which I'm sure many Pretty Woman purists will be delighted to hear.

Though the show isn't perfect, I can't stress enough just how amazing the cast is, they give their all on stage, and the joy of performing again was radiating so brightly you can't help but root for them, and root for them I did. Pretty Woman the Musical isn't going to change anyone's life, however it makes a more than enjoyable night at the theatre in its current state. If you're craving a taste of Broadway, Pretty Woman will be the sweet and fluffy treat to curb that desire.

Pretty Woman

Now - October 31st

Aronoff Center For The Arts

650 Walnut Street Cincinnati, OH 45202.

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