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Broadway Review: PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL vs. PRETTY WOMAN THE MOVIE

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How does Pretty Woman the Musical Translate on Stage
Tinsel & Tine's Quick Look at

PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL

By Le Anne Lindsay, Editor

In March 2014, it was announced that a musical adaption of the 1990 movie which made Julia Roberts a household name, was being developed for the stage, with original screenwriter J.F. Lawton and director Garry Marshall attached to write the book. Marshall worked on the musical adaptation up until his death, July of 2016. Pretty Woman The Musical had its off Broadway premiere at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago in March 2018 and opened on Broadway August 16, 2018 - I got to see a Broadway matinee on Saturday August 18th - thanks to my sister Alyssa, who made sure we bought Hagey Bus tickets to see the show very early on.  We've both seen Pretty Woman the movie about 20x or more since the infectious rom/com first soared into theaters over 25 years ago (Click HERE for Tinsel & Tine Celebrates 25 Years of Pretty Woman post) so we really enjoyed the novelty of seeing it on stage as a musical, dissecting each scene to see what they kept, changed or expanded. And I can happily say, they keep almost everything, everything important anyway, and practically word for word... except, she doesn’t fling the escargot across the restaurant.


Unfortunately, if you don't have a deep connection to the movie, and you're coming to the show because you like Broadway musicals, then I feel you'll be disappointed because Pretty Woman The Musical can't stand on its own as a great show. The story doesn't translate as well without Julia Roberts & Richard Gere, under Garry Marshall's direction. The love story seems a little flat on stage, not nearly as magical and engaging as the film.  Plus, although they left it set in the early 90's, which actually in the movie feels more 80's, you don't get the same sense of nostalgia for this time period from the sets and props as you do when watching the movie.

But the main issue with Pretty Woman the Musical is the lyrics & score, written by 80’s soft rocker Bryan Adams and his writing partner Jim Vallance. I found almost all the songs to be annoying, completely uninspired and identical to one another - a driving rock beat underneath, with a tuneless musical theater sound on top. The exception being 2 songs - “On a Night Like Tonight” which worked as a good dance number, and “This is my Life” which uses dialogue from the movie as lyrics. I really wish they could have worked in songs from the original soundtrack, which I love.

Le Anne Lindsay Movie Blogger, Film Critic

Samantha Barks (Vivian Ward) in the title role is lively and expressive, but she doesn’t bring the same attitude as Roberts, still, she’s very likable. Andy Karl (Edward Lewis) is supposed to be a top get for the musical, as he’s done a number of movies turned Broadway shows like Legally Blonde, The Wedding Singer, Groundhogs Day, Rocky and more. But for me, he just looked the part, but didn’t bring much to the role of corporate raider Edward Lewis. They expanded the role of Vivian’s hooker roommate, Kit, which is a mistake. The actress Orfeh, (just goes by one name) is impressive, with a huge, belting voice, but there’s a reason why in the movie this character only shows up in 3 specific scenes, because that’s all that’s needed.

Pretty Woman The Musical Review Philadelphia Theater Critic

What I was most pleased with, was the costume design by Gregg Barnes, because he really stayed very close to the movie, the hooker outfit was recreated to a T, as well as her polka-dot dress worn during the Polo scene, except instead of dark brown, they change it to blue, which pops better on stage.
On our way to New York City in a Hagey Tour BusALYSSA'S REVIEW: I’m glad you didn’t write what other critics wrote about it not be gritty enough for the subject matter and that the character of Vivian came across too fresh and bubbly even though she was a hooker. I think either you can accept the idea of prostitution as a comedy or not. (It’s like the show Hogan’s Heroes, either you can find Nazi war camp funny or not but you can’t make it a drama.) I swear this whole #Metoo movement is spoiling a lot of fun for movies and tv and other comedy shows.

That’s why those Pretty Woman musical t-shirts had to have all those sayings about her being proud and fierce and all that because the show was afraid of the backlash. But we’re women and the t-shirts didn’t work on us because it’s not from the movie.

And anyway, in the Pretty Woman movie the script already implies all that in the fact that Viv and Kit are not like most prostitutes because they have no pimp …. “I say who. I say when.” One critic complained the show opening with tourists taking pictures of Skinny Marie dead behind the dumpster is treated too lightly. But it’s the same joke from the movie--it was funny then, but apparently not now that it’s on Broadway. Why does every show has to being saying something meaningful? Can’t anything just be for fun? That’s what I always loved about Gary Marshall (and Aaron Spelling), he never took anything too seriously.

I’ve been thinking about it and I think where the musical went wrong in the casting of Edward is that he’s supposed to be much older than Vivian (like the age gap between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts) to give the character more of a contrast and a world-wearyness, just like in the musical Gigi, Gaston is much older than Gigi. I think it helps a lot to explain why successful, rich men like Edward and Gaston find poor, lower class women like Vivian and Gigi so appealing and refreshing. But at least Andy Karl was handsome and they didn’t cast a Seth Rogen type, which according to romantic comedies for the past decade is to supposed to be the ideal new leading man. (No thanks.)

I also don’t think they had to insist on an 80’s themed musical score just because the movie was written back then. It was like the show was trying so hard to make you know the story was taking place at a different time. I’m not sure why, are there no longer prostitutes on Hollywood Boulevard? Actually, whenever I still watch the movie I think it still holds up well after all these years. Maybe today you’d have to change the model of the car and a few locations, but that’s about it. All in all, I’m glad the musical mostly kept to the movie’s tone because I think it’s meant for the fans of the movie who accepted and loved the fairytale premise from the first time they saw it and never needed any convincing.



 All in all, we both feel very grateful that we got a chance to see it on Broadway, especially this early,  and see it together; but we can't really recommend it to non-pretty woman fanatics.


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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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