By Woody Weingarten
Tons of us have seen the 1990 movie: Julia Roberts, a hooker, charms plutocrat Richard Gere. Its feel-good offspring, Pretty Woman — The Musical, provides a fun experience, too, though not quite as charming.
The two leads (Jessie Davidson as Vivian Ward and Tony Award nominee Adam Pascal as Edward Lewis) have such terrific pipes that their singing might move you either to wild applause or tears. Or both.
…a fun experience…
And Travis Ward-Osborne as the show’s comic linchpin — playing both the cuddly manager of the Beverly-Wilshire hotel and the singing narrator — is a slapstick marvel who can move you to laughing out loud. Ditto Trent Soyster, who playfully plays his bellhop sidekick, Giulio. Both are particularly smile-inducing via exaggerated clown-like schtick. Their over-the-top tango during a dance lesson alone is worth the price of admission.
Another major positive is the show’s book, penned by the late Garry Marshall, who directed the original movie version and seventeen other films, and J.F. Lawton, who’s written screenplays for every major Hollywood studio. The musical, now at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco through April 30, provides gags galore , with some lines repeated verbatim from the film.
Praiseworthy, too, is Jessica Crouch as Kit. She’s a singer with an extraordinary ability to hold a high note forever and a day.
A poignant, ultra-romantic scene that many are likely to label the musical’s best involves Verdi’s La Traviata, with our focus couple sitting in a box-seat ringed by plush curtains while decked-out devotees spin around them as operatic tones ripple all the way to the last rows.
The storyline, of course, has Vivian agreeing to stay with Edward for a week at the Beverly-Wilshire hotel in 1960s Hollywood and do whatever he wants, sexually and otherwise — for $3,000. She then evolves from a foul-mouthed, blonde-wigged sex worker into a Rodeo Drive clothing-clad, ladylike, brunette beauty. Shades of both Pygmalion, which itself was turned into a delightful musical, My Fair Lady, and Cinderella.
She also tries to dissuade him from leading a hostile takeover and firing scores of employees.
And yes, the whole thing’s a shallow dive into the unspeakable lives of most streetwalkers. Without becoming Chicago.
Choreography by the film’s Tony Award-winning director, Jerry Mitchell, never reaches the passion that could push this show beyond three-and-a-half stars, however. The audience is treated mostly to a chorus of dancers that frequently thrust their arms into the air, with whatever hoofing skills they may have kept in check.
The two-hour musical (plus intermission) features twenty-one numbers by Grammy winner Bryan Adams and Jim Valiance. Most are —forgettable.
Memorable, in contrast, is the show’s upbeat attitude — and, in fact, colorful costumes designed by Gregg Barnes.
Toward the end, there’s a moment where Edward gives Vivian a glitzy necklace as an accessory to a striking strapless red gown after saying, “Something is missing.” Taking nothing away from Jessie Davidson’s stellar performance as Vivian, what may be missing in Pretty Woman — The Musical is…Julia Roberts.
ASR Senior Contributor Woody Weingarten has decades of experience writing arts and entertainment reviews and features. A member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, he is the author of three books, The Roving I; Grampy and His Fairyzona Playmates; and Rollercoaster: How a Man Can Survive His Partner’s Breast Cancer. Contact: email@example.com or https://woodyweingarten.com or http://www.vitalitypress.com/
|Production||Pretty Woman: The Musical|
|Music by||Bryan Adams and Jim Valiance|
|Directed & Choreography by||Jerry Mitchell|
|Book by||Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton|
|Production Dates||Thru April 30th|
|Production Address||Orpheum Theater 1192 Market St. at Hyde. San Francisco.|
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review Pick?||-----|