PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL
Book by Garry Marshall & J. F Lawton
Music and Lyrics by Bryan Adams & Jim Vallance
Based on the Touchstone Pictures motion picture written by J. F. Lawton
Germania Insurance Broadway Series presented by Broadway Dallas
Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell
Music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Will Van Dyke
Scenic Design – David Rockwell
Costume Design – Gregg Barnes
Lighting Design – Kenneth Posner & Philip S. Rosenberg
Sound Design – John Shivers
Hair Design – Josh Marquette
Makeup Design – Fiona Mifsud
Music Director – Daniel Klintworth
Music Coordinator – Michael Keller & Michael Aaron
Associate Director – DB Bonds
Associate Choreographer – Rusty Mowery
Fight Director – J. Allen Suddeth
Production Stage Manager – Kelsey Tippins
Technical Supervisor – Full Stage Productions
Production Supervisor – Thomas Recktenwald
Vivian Ward – Carissa Gaughran (Understudy)
Edward Lewis – Adam Pascal
Kit De Luca – Jessica Crouch
Happy Man – Travis Ward-Osborne
Philip Stuckey -Matthew Stocke
Landlord – Matt Farcher
Susan – Nella Cole
Rachel – Natalie Bourgeois
Giulio – Trent Soyster
Hotel Staff – Devon McCleskey, Christian Kidd, Brett Stoelker, & Jonathan Young
Amanda – Anju Cloud
Erica – Nella Cole
David Morse – Jordan Alexander
Scarlett – Anju Cloud
Fred – Jonathan Young
Senator Adams – Christian Kidd
Alfredo – Jonathon Young
Violetta – Jade Amber
Ensemble – Jordan Alexander, Jade Amber, Natalie Bourgeois, Anju Cloud, Nella Cole, Matt Farcher, Mia Gerachis, Christian Kidd, Devon McCleskey, Bart Mather, Alice Reys, Bianca Rivera-Irions, Trent Soyster, Brett Stoelker, Jonathan Young
Conductor/Keyboard 1 – Daniel Klintworth
Associate Conductor/Keyboard 2 – Shane Parus
Guitar 1 – Oscar Bautista
Guitar 2 – Nick Greathouse
Bass – Magda Kress
Drums – Kevin McNaughton
Reviewed Performance: 1/25/2023
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
It is hard to believe that 2023 is here and the last days of January are upon us. All of the stress of preparing for the holiday season is in the past and it is time to relax and have fun. I can think of a few things that would offer you more entertainment value than checking out the touring production of “Pretty Woman: The Musical” now playing at the Music Hall at Fair Park. It’s big (huge according to the publicity material), splashy and colorful, chock full of high-energy 90’s style pop music and dancing, and charged with enough emotion and vitality to keep you happy for days after you see it. And you will have (I must use the word again) fun.
Based on the 1990 movie directed by Garry Marshall with a screenplay by J. F. Lawton and starring Richard Gere and 21-year-old Julia Roberts, this play tells the story of Vivian Ward (Carissa Gaughran), a high-spirited prostitute plying her trade on the streets of Los Angeles with her friend and roommate Kit De Luca (Jessica Crouch). This may not seem like a hopeful story, but Happy Man (Travis Ward-Osborne, who shows up everywhere during the course of the show as various characters), who sells maps to the stars, welcomes us to Hollywood and proclaims that everyone there has a dream. Vivian’s dream is to be rescued by a handsome prince.
Into her life walks rich businessman Edward Lewis (Adam Pascal), in L.A. to conduct a billion-dollar deal. He asks Vivian for directions, and she agrees, for a price. Edward is so impressed with her that he asks Vivian to accompany him to the penthouse of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. There he offers her $3000 to be his escort to various social and business functions while he is in town. She accepts and the rest of the story is watching the relationship that develops and the changes that happen to Vivian and Edward during their week together. Of course, all of this will end happily. After all, many people attending will have seen the movie and know how it turns out. Except for me.
I have never seen the movie though I know it through reputation and cultural references, and I think that may give me a different perspective. When “Pretty Woman: The Musical” premiered on Broadway in 2019, some of the critical response was negative. One criticism was that the play was based too closely on the movie and did nothing to update the material. Since I was encountering this story for the first time, and the sets, costumes, and music were firmly rooted in the late 80s to early 90s, I saw it as an entertaining glimpse into a rose-colored past. It gives us a place where dreams come true, prostitutes overcome their circumstances by simply believing it, and princes really do come to the rescue. A fairy tale, but one that is told with skill and heart. And my wife and I had a great time watching it.
As you enter the theater, the first thing you see is a portion of the rear of the famous Hollywood sign, letting us know that we will be seeing the back side, the less glamorous parts of the city. But in the world created by designer David Rockwell, the tattoo parlor signs, the checks cashed store, and even the questionable nightclub advertisements (The Blue Banana Club sign was quite prominent) were colorful and flashy. Framed by stylized palm trees that slid in and out, the set was a marvel of transformation, with pieces flying in and being pushed out with well-rehearsed precision. The lighting design by Kenneth Posner and Philip S. Rosenberg emphasized the 90’s fairy tale aura of the production, being both subtle and glitzy, culminating in an all-out light show for the curtain call.
The costumes of Gregg Barnes bring back the appropriate time period, shoulder pads, and all. There is also a recreation of the famous red dress that Vivian wears to accompany Edward to the opera that was seen in the movie and it is, indeed, beautiful. The hair design work of Josh Marquette and the makeup design of Fiona Mifsud complement the costumes and completes the whole look of the play.
The time period in which the story takes place is firmly established by the music and lyrics of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, brought to life for the stage by music director/conductor Daniel Klintworth and his orchestra. Ranging from guitar-driven power anthems (‘Freedom,’ ‘I Won’t Go Back.’), to heartfelt ballads (‘This is My Life'), and on to full-on production numbers (‘Welcome to Hollywood,’ ‘Never Give Up on a Dream,’ ‘Together Forever.'), this score wears it’s late 80’s/early 90’s heart firmly on its sleeve. One number, ‘On a Night Like Tonight,’ differed some by having a wonderfully lush ballroom feel to it that made me smile, and choreographer/director Jerry Mitchell’s dance for it was among the funniest tango routines I have seen. Mr. Mitchell’s choreography is lovely to watch, whether it is the elegant moves on an opera gala dance floor or an exuberant hip-hop party on the streets. His direction of the entire production is crisp and the pace he has set for the show is quick without being rushed. He has also enabled his talented cast to shine at their brightest.
The actress who plays Vivian Ward will forever be compared to Julia Roberts. But this is a musical and requires an entirely different set of skills, so the comparisons are irrelevant. Carissa Gaughran ably portrays Vivian’s tenacity and intelligence. She shows the journey of someone starting to feel love again after their emotions have been dulled by reality. Ms. Gaughran has a strong, lovely singing voice which she uses to her advantage throughout her performance. Particularly impressive was her work on ‘I Won’t Go Back,’ where she made the depth of the resolve of the character palpable. Carissa Gaughran is also very likable and made Vivian Ward easy to root for.
The prince of this story is Edward Lewis, played by the tall, good-looking, and very charismatic Adam Pascal. Though the character is a corporate raider, he is not an evil man and Mr. Pascal radiates integrity and a hint of vulnerability, which makes it understandable that Vivian would be attracted to Edward. Mr. Pascal’s singing voice is high with a touch of roughness on the edges that fit perfectly with the Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance score. His final scene with Vivian, complete with him riding to her rescue on a “horse” (must be seen to be believed), is spirited and altogether winning.
Happy Man is our guide and also a playful chameleon throughout the show; Travis Ward-Osborne plays him with unabashed abandon. He can be seen selling maps on the streets of L.A., as the kind-hearted manager of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a piano player in a dance club, a proprietor of a swanky dress shop, and even as the conductor of an opera orchestra. Mr. Ward-Osborne makes each role distinct, and his skillful singing and dancing make him a joy to watch. Let’s face it, Happy Man made me happy.
Jessica Crouch makes a great impression as Kit De Luca, the wise-cracking roommate, and mentor to Vivian. She sings with such force and imbues her voice with such a growl that made me wonder if she had to pick up her vocal cords up off the stage after she finished singing. The character’s move away from prostitution was a bit easy, but we are not in the real world here, and Ms. Crouch made it believable.
The lovable bellhop Giulio was played by Trent Soyster with playfulness and wit. Mr. Soyster brings the art of mugging to a transcendent level, and he is a joy to watch, especially when dancing the tango with Happy Man. Matthew Stocke exudes the proper amount of menace and odiousness as the money-hungry corporate lawyer working for Edward. Because of Mr. Stocke’s solid work, it makes his eventual comeuppance very satisfying.
And, as it has been with all of the touring companies I have seen, I must applaud the performances of the men and women in the ensemble. All the rehearsals you have attended, all the dancing, singing, acting, and assisting in set changes that you do holds the entire show together. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to your craft.
To end the evening after the curtain call, the cast gives us a rousing, rollicking version of the Roy Orbison & Bill Dees hit, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman,’ the inspiration for the film and the stage play, and it encapsulates the feeling of the entire show. “Pretty Woman: The Musical” is a lot of fun. Let me know if I am right. Head out to the Music Hall and find out for yourself. And have fun!
PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL
* Presented by Broadway Dallas
January 24 - February 5, 2023
Music Hall at Fair Park
* Presented by Performing Arts Fort Worth
February 7-12, 2023
Bass Performance Hall
For tickets and more information call 800-982-2787 Or visit on the Web at www.BroadwayDallas.org