The classic 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman has made it to the stage, and it is now gracing the historic Piccadilly Theatre in London’s famed West End! The film, originally featuring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, is now a live-action comedy full of fresh new faces and fun songs. Overall, this isn’t mind-blowing theatre, but it can make for a fun night out, especially for fans of the original movie.
The biggest flaw with this adaptation is that it is not so much an adaptation as it is a replication. The story hasn’t been changed enough to make a smooth transition to the stage, and it sometimes feels like watching an awkward reenactment of the film. This isn’t to say that all entertainment is lost, just that there are moments when the charm of the original film falls a little flat.
The brightest spots in this performance come in the form of the song and comedy. Aimee Atkinson plays working girl Vivian Ward, with Danny Mac taking on Richard Gere’s role of Edward Lewis. While the stage chemistry between the two actors leaves something to be desired, they both exhibit beautiful singing voices and put forth a wonderful effort in their dancing. Credit Jerry Mitchell’s choreography for keeping this show one worth watching, because his directing doesn’t quite make the cut.
There are some gems in the rest of the cast as well, especially Rachael Wooding, who plays Vivian’s sidekick, Kit De Luca. Her witty quips are well delivered throughout the performance and provide added comedic relief when the on-stage chemistry is starting to become tiresome. Neil McDermott gives a strong performance as Phillip Stuckey, Edward’s hard-nosed and mostly unlikable attorney. It takes some real talent to make some appreciate such a vile character, but McDermott gets the job done.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that all of the actors have their strong points, they just don’t seem to work together cohesively. This musical could probably benefit from a rewrite and possibly some new direction. There is some promise shown throughout, so it is definitely salvageable.
Although there is work to be done to perfect this live performance, the nostalgia factor alone should be enough to keep audiences drawn in. If you are into the cheesiness of 90’s throwback memorabilia, the visuals will keep you amused and excited. It’s plenty of fun if you aren’t expecting a masterpiece.
While we can’t say this is a premier performance, we can say that it is still a fun musical, especially if Pretty Woman is on your list of favourite movies. You’ll be given enough atmosphere to be taken back to the feeling of watching the first film, and the music and comedic numbers are exciting. But you may leave feeling like you need to go watch the movie to really bring out its best points.