‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’: Discover A New Take on a Rom-Com Classic

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I grew up on romantic comedies, as they were a favorite of my mother and grandma. As soon as I had seen and outgrown all the Disney animated films, I began to cut my teeth into the world of grown-up movies with the likes of The Princess Bride, Two Weeks Notice, and Never Been Kissed. However, only one queen of romantic comedies held a grip on my mom’s heart, Julia Roberts. Notting Hill, Runaway Bride, My Best Friend’s Wedding; so many rom-coms, but none caught her attention quite like Pretty Woman. So when Pretty Woman: The Musical was announced to make a stop in Detroit, it was at the top of our lists.

Keeping the fairy tale, but adding in singing and dancing, Pretty Woman: The Musical looks to reinvent a classic 90s film for a new generation. With a book by Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton, the directing and writing duo of the original film, Bryan Adams & Jim Vallance added music and lyrics to this colorful reimagined Cinderella story.

Ellie Baker and Chase Wolfe bring to life the dynamic leading couple of Vivian Ward and Edward Lewis, in a show that is vibrant from the opening number to the curtain call. Should Pretty Woman: The Musical be your next show as it travels across North America? Step into high society with me, as we explore this rags-to-riches tale perfect for those who love romance and laughing.

[Warning: spoilers from Pretty Woman: The Musical are below!]

Vivian Ward at the start of her “Cinderella story”

Life can be difficult, which is something that we all can agree on. For all the good memories we have, there are also those times that are troublesome. Regrets we have, situations that happen that push us into directions we never anticipated. Dreams that once were vibrant and alive, disappeared quickly. No one seems to understand that more than Vivian Ward (Baker), who finds herself working as a hooker in Hollywood as Pretty Woman: The Musical opens up. The world on stage is pulsing with color and an intoxicating energy, which is representative of both the setting and Vivian.

She’s not one to get herself down. Sure, this isn’t the life that she wanted, but she’s not going to waste a moment of it. Every day, she wakes up and does what she needs to do to survive, along with the help of fellow hooker and best friend Kit De Luca (Rae Davenport). Together they are an unstoppable force, prepared to pay their rent to a hole-in-the-wall apartment and hope to eventually change their lives’ circumstances.

Edward (Chase Wolfe) and Vivian (Ellie Baker). Pretty Woman: the Musical
Edward (Chase Wolfe) and Vivian (Ellie Baker). Pretty Woman: the Musical (Broadway in Detroit).

However, life has something else in mind for the vivacious Vivian, with a little help from her fairy Godfather, Happy Man (Adam Du Plessis). Happy Man floats through the show, playing different roles integral to the story, pushing Vivian towards her destiny, which begins with a lost billionaire looking for directions. When Edward (Chase Wolfe) arrives at the corner Vivian happens to be working, there’s something instantaneous between these two, and life for neither of them will ever be the same.

What began as a trick for Vivian, turns into a week in the high life, as Edward hires her to stay with him. He believes that with her around, he won’t be distracted from work, as he’s attempting a hostile takeover of another company. There’s no reality that Edward doesn’t become distracted, as the two learn to trust one another as feelings of love develop way past what either anticipated.

The positives and negatives of Pretty Woman: The Musical

Pretty Woman: The Musical was one of the recent shows I’ve seen in Detroit that I’ve had the highest expectations for. I had never seen the musical before, all I knew about the story was the film. As we know from other shows, such as Beetlejuice: The Musical, it isn’t always a 1:1 adaptation from screen to stage. However, having seen the film Pretty Woman many times across my 30 years of life, and with it being one of my mother’s favorite films, a lot was riding on this musical to be good, if not better than the film.

All this to say, I was pleasantly surprised by Pretty Woman: The Musical, which I enjoyed immensely. The story is still largely intact, with minor changes that are expected when taking something grand and putting it onto stage. All the important beats are present, but it felt more immersive because it was unfolding on stage in front of you. The songs only added to the quality of the story, giving audience-goers insight into the inner thoughts of these characters, especially Vivian and Edward. There are fast-paced songs that represent the time in which the story takes place, while others are all important ballads and typical songs expected of any traditional Broadway story. 

There are standout moments for every one of the stars of Pretty Woman: The Musical, which is showcased in the songs they sing. While everyone is strong, some stand out more than others on stage. Top of the list is Rae Davenport as Kit, whose vocals were astounding in every song she was in. She outsang everyone on stage, with a range that was impressive and astonishing to hear. I found my jaw falling open multiple times as she hit notes and runs so magnificently that it left me breathless.

Matching her talent and energy were the two male stars of the show, as both Chase Wolfe and Adam Du Plessis are fantastic in their roles. Wolfe also has a strong range to his vocals, which leads to some of the show’s best musical moments. However, a round of applause must be given to Du Plessis, who sings many different styles and in a range of voices, to play all the roles he has to throughout the show. 

Happy Man (Adam Du Plessis)
Happy Man (Adam Du Plessis). Pretty Woman: The Musical (Broadway in Detroit).

With so many roles and so much talent in these three people, the star Ellie Baker is outshone as Vivian. From a technical standpoint, her performance is good, maybe even great. However, there are parts of her role that feel so mechanical because the technical components of her performance override the feeling and movement of Vivian and the show. This only really appeared during her singing, as she felt more natural in the acting and moving around the stage.

Pretty Woman: The Musical did something interesting with colors and shadows, which made the show memorable. The backdrop changed colors, portraying the different colors of the Hollywood sky. Brilliant purples and blues, and vibrant yellows, oranges, and pinks, changed as the sun rose and set, creating shadows and silhouettes. It was a simple way to convey the movement of time, but was stunning to see and added to the sexiness of the show. 

Final thoughts on Pretty Woman: The Musical

While I have problems with the premise of the show, which is the same as the film, Pretty Woman: The Musical honors the legacy of the original, but enhances the story to something more. The show is ripe with talent, and the set design is something spectacular for a musical on tour. Pretty Woman: The Musical is perfect for those who loved the film, as well as those just looking for a good night out at the theater. So grab your tickets, and your fanciest dress, and make sure to catch it when it comes to a town near you.

Pretty Woman: The Musical is currently running in Detroit, and headed to a city near you. Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus if you plan on checking out this show!

Exclusive Interview: Adam Du Plessis Talks Pretty Woman The Musical

Exclusive Interview with Adam Du Plessis for Pretty Woman The Musical Banner

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 35 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson