Review: PRETTY WOMAN at VAN WEZEL

While it might not be on the top of your must-see list, if this cast comes to your town, it is a musical you will be glad you saw!

By: Nov. 28, 2023
Review: PRETTY WOMAN at VAN WEZEL

I am fairly confident that anyone with half a pulse in 1990, not only saw the movie, Pretty Woman, but fell in love with it. Now to take the storyline at its premise – millionaire meets a prostitute, and they fall in love, well…that is the stuff Hollywood is made for. So why not take it and turn it into a musical? I personally think movies turned musicals are way overdone (this coming from someone thrilled to be seeing the Back to the Future Musical this weekend). However, theatre is supposed to be fun; so, I was more than intrigued to see this touring production at the Van Wezel.

The Musical IS the movie. The dialogue was almost verbatim to the point that I knew exactly what lines were coming next and then a song would break out. For those who love the movie (which is most of us) that is not a bad thing. You certainly cannot say the writers deviated from the story. The musical brings you every sacred moment from on top of the piano to the climbing up the balcony. It really made for a memorable night.

The cast is highlighted by Ellie Baker (Vivian Ward) and Chase Wolfe (Edward Lewis) who delivered amazing vocal performances that elevated a story that never dragged. It is hard not envision the iconic Julia Roberts and Richard Gere as you watch them perform. Baker and Wolfe will never be confused for Roberts and Gere but then the Hollywood Stars most likely could have never conquered the challenging vocals like the two leads did in the musical.

Baker is strong and poignant. She has a firm grasp on the character she is portraying and took great care in every mannerism to ensure the fidelity of the timeless character. Likewise, Wolfe had a wit and charm that enamors an audience to him. His song “Freedom” was sensational. He is the type of performer you could listen to all day. While I felt the emotional connection between the two could have been stronger, I am biased to the story and characters I know, and it was not anything that would distract you from the story.

The ensemble performance was small in duration but full of great highlights mostly by Adam du Plessis (Happy Man) who was a clear crowd favorite and the type of character most performers would crave to play on stage.

Pretty Woman directed by DB Bonds with music by Will Van Dyke and choreography by Rusty Mowery, is what theatre should be – fun! The show will take you down memory lane and provide some great musical moments. While it might not be on the top of your must-see list, if this cast comes to your town, it is a musical you will be glad you saw!

Information on the remaining shows in this year’s Van Wezel Broadway can be found at www.vanwezel.org

Photo Credit: Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade




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