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Review: Dazzling PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL Stops At Straz Center For The Performing Arts

Olivia Valli and Adam Pascal lead a stellar cast onstage through May 22,2022. 

Review: Dazzling PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL Stops At Straz Center For The Performing Arts "If I forget to tell you later...I had a really good time tonight." -Vivian

"I want the Fairytale."- Vivian

Anyone who has been immersed in "Pop Culture" over the last 30+ years has seen, heard, or knows every line and sequence of the 1990 Romantic Comedy Pretty Woman starring the iconic duo of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. The film is about a down-and-out hooker in Los Angeles trying to make ends meet until she stumbles upon the suave, debonaire businessman Edward Lewis. Directed by Gary Marshall, the film itself was supposed to represent a cautionary tale of class and prostitution, however, the Budget was raised and what came forth was a Romantic Comedy that soon became the third-highest-grossing film of the 1990s. Despite receiving mixed reviews at the Box Office, the film earned Julia Roberts a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Vivian Ward, and a Nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.

The plot here is not complex, and rather simple as far as romantic comedies go. Edward Lewis is visiting Los Angeles on a business trip, and while borrowing his lawyer's car ends up stranded just outside of Hollywood Blvd. A mere chance meet-cute with Vivian, a "Professional" of a street nature turns his world upside down and he suddenly changes everything he's ever known. Upon the meeting, she agrees to drive him back to his hotel. The two make an arrangement for her to accompany him as a "romantic companion" for the week at his many business functions, dinners, a night at the opera, and the Beverly Hills Polo Club. All along as romantic comedies go, guy meets girl, a guy falls in love with a girl, guy screws it up, and the guy fixes it in the end, only to fall madly in love and ride off on a white horse into the sunset. At least that was the fairytale all planned out by Vivian from the time she was a little girl.

The musical adaptation directed and choreographed by the incomparable Jerry Mitchell does the film of the same name absolute justice and then some. Boasting an exquisite score with music by Bryan Adams, Pretty Woman the Musical accomplishes BIG, HUGE, things from the moment it burst onto the stage. As the closing show for the Straz Center's Broadway Season, it is the perfect ending to an incredible year of live theatre.

With an incredible closing of a season of epic shows what better way than to close with one of Broadway's biggest names. Adam Pascal originated the role of Roger Davis in the Off-Broadway, Broadway, and Film version of Jonathan Larson's RENT. Also originating the role of Radames in Broadway's Aida, Adam's smooth, and sultry vocals are effortless here. His portrayal of Edward is staunch when it needs to be, and full of swagger with every sultry note in moments of "Something About Her," and "Freedom." Adam not only embodies the role made famous by Richard Gere, but adds his own flair, and makes even the hardest of hearts swoon with every breath.

Olivia Valli as Vivian Ward is tough as nails and full of heart. Her moments in "Anywhere But Here," "This Is My Life," and "I Can't Go Back," are breathtaking. She has so much vocal power wrapped up inside her that it is bursting at the seams with every note. She embodies Vivian with such grace and fortitude that no one can stand in her way. Her chemistry with Edward is undeniable here and a perfect match from the very start.

As Kit DeLuca and Vivian's best friend, Jessica Crouch is undeniably fantastic, following in the footsteps of Orfeh, Jessica Crouch makes Kit her own and does so with gusto. Her "Rodeo Drive," and "Luckiest Girl in the World," are unmatched in vocal prowess. She commands the stage and truly takes no prisoners. Jessica should be exceptionally proud of her stunning work here.

Kyle Taylor Parker, most known for his portrayal as Lola in Jerry Mitchell's Kinky Boots, is outstanding as Happy Man. Opening the show and bringing us into the world of Hollywood, and following with his turn as the Hotel Manager, and several other small parts make this a stirring turn. Kyle commands the stage both in physical and vocal abilities. His "On a Night Like Tonight," "Welcome to Hollywood," and "Never Give Up On A Dream," shows his breadth of talent. His comedic timing is unmatched here, and his moments with Giulio are hilarious to watch. Kyle steals the show each time he's on stage and is a great addition to the company.

As Giulio, Trent Soyster soars above the masses. They say when you see a show such as Hamilton, you should not just pay attention to the leading principles, but more often than not, you should take a look at every single person making up the Ensemble. No truer a statement can be made than that of Trent's performance. As Giulio he makes his mark on every scene he is involved in. His portrayal adds so much depth, and comic relief to the moment, you constantly wait to see what will happen next. His moments with both the Happy Man and Vivian are beautifully rendered here, and there is a moment with a wig in Act 1 that you must see to believe. The young Trent Soyster is on to something here, and BIG, HUGE, things will be coming his way in the near future. Trent should be exceptionally proud of the beautiful work displayed here, for he is the one to watch.

With explosive choreography from the opening moments of "Welcome to Hollywood," to the final moments of "Together Forever," Jerry Mitchell's musical adaptation of Pretty Woman has it all. As Edward Lewis Adam Pascal has a swagger that makes you beg for more, his effervescent vocals on "Something About Her," and "Freedom," take your breath away and make you swoon in all the right ways. Vivian's moment with Edward makes you never want the night to end, and their moments of duets, "Long Way Home," and "You and I" which includes other members of the company are truly breathtaking.

Rounding out the company, are Matthew Stocke (Phillip Stuckey), Chris Manuel (Landlord), Carissa Gaughran (Susan), Alexa Xioufaridou Moster (Rachel), Michael Dalke, Christian Douglas, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson, and Brent Thiessen (Hotel Staff), Anju Cloud (Scarlett), Christian Douglas (Fred), Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson (Senator Adams), Christian Douglas (Alfredo), Amma Osei (Violetta), and an Ensemble (Christian Brailsford, Anju Cloud, Nella Cole, Michael Dalke, Christian Douglas, Carissa Gaughran, Joshua Kenneth Allen Johnson, Chris Manuel, Alexa Xioufardou Mo0ster, Kaylee Olson, Amma Osei, Alice Reys, Jonathan Ritter, Trent Soyster, and Brent Thiessen), and Swings (Matt Farcher, Em Hadick, Keyonna Knight, Devon McKlesky, and Jonathan Young). Exceptional job by all involved and all should be commended for their exquisite work here.

Pretty Woman the Musical is the perfect ticket for your girlfriends, your mom, your boyfriend, husband/wife, or anyone who loves romantic comedies. Filled with exceptional music, exceptional talent, stunning Set Design by David Rockwell, Costume Design by Gregg Barnes, Lighting Design by Kenneth Posner, and Philip S. Rosenberg, and Sound Design by John Shivers, this musical adaptation is sure to be the hottest ticket in town. So put on that red dress, and shimmy on down to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday May 22 to experience Pretty Woman the Musical. Who knows maybe, you'll write your own fairytale...tickets are available by visiting strazcenter.org.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy



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