Pretty Woman The Musical, Playhouse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Pretty Woman The Musical. Amber Davies 'Vivian Ward' and Company. Photo Marc Brenner
Show details
Ambassador Theatre Group Productions, Paula Wagner, Nice Productions, LPO, New Regency Productions, Gavin Kalin Productions, JAS Theatricals / Josh Andrews Productions, Hunter Arnold, Caiola Productions & Co, John Gore Organization, Edward Walson, Deroy K
Garry Marshall & J F Lawton (writers – based on motion picture by J F Lawton), Bryan Adams & Jim Vance (composers), Jerry Mitchell (director and choreographer), David Rockwell (scenic designer), Kenneth Posner & Philip S Rosenberg (lighting designers), John Shivers (sound designer), Tom Rogers (costume designer), Simon Gooding & Matt Jones (production managers), Nick Gingell (company manager), Hayley Craven (stage manager).
Amber Davies (Vivian Ward), Oliver Savile (Edward Lewis), Ore Aduba (Happy Man / Mr Thompson), Natalie Paris (Kit de Luca), Ben darcy (Philip Stuckey), Chomba Taulo (David Morse), Becky Anderson (swing / resident choreographer), Rachael Kendall Brown (ensemble), Rebekah Bryant (swing), Josh Damer-Jennings (Alfredo), Andrew Davison (ensemble / naked cowboy), Lila Falce-Bass (Violetta / bag lady), Noah Harrison (Giulio), Sydnie Hocknell (ensemble), Elly Jay (ensemble / Scarlett), Michael Kholwadia (ensemble), Joshua Lear (swing / dance captain), Stuart Maciver (swing), Victoria Rachael McCabe (swing), Eleanor Morrison-Halliday (ensemble), LJ Neilson (ensemble / resident director), Annell Odartey (ensemble), Elliot David Parkes (ensemble), Curtis Patrick (ensemble), Toby Shellard (ensemble). [Orchestra – Griff Johnson (musical director / keyboard), Tim Jasper (deputy musical director / keyboard 2), Philip Steventon (drums / percussion / Ableton), Luke Adams (guitar), Nicholas Hill (guitar), Ashley Young (bass guitar)].

Welcome to Hollywood where beneath the palm trees and neon lights everybody has a dream, even if it’s only to get a map to see the homes of the stars of Tinseltown.

Vivian is a long way from her smalltown home in Georgia and her childhood dream of being a rescued princess. She is currently a damsel in distress as the rent is overdue and the only stars that she is seeing are the ones on the sidewalk between Don Ameche and Roy Rogers.  She works this corner as a prostitute with colleague and flatmate Kitt, trying to keep each other safe and with a roof over their heads.  This is not her world, and her dream is to be anywhere but here.

When a lost Edward pulls up in a sports car to ask directions to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel she is down to business, something that he approves of. He is solely about commerce, a sort of corporate raider breaking up failing business for profit with little regard to the impact.  His previous girlfriend is fed up with being his beck and call girl and he needs someone on his arm at social events while he tries to acquire a company.  A deal is struck, and Vivian enters Edward’s realm of penthouses, limos, champagne, and polo.

It's an arrangement that will challenge and change them both, but this is still not her world, and a dramatic shift will be required to make this a story about love and not about money.

The movie (the 4th highest grossing of all time at release) was less gritty than its source material and this is less so again.   The show is high energy escapism, slickly directed and always visually interesting and the script doesn’t stray too far from the film, which is no bad thing.  The opera scene offers more than a little of the magic of Powell and Pressburger. While the leads might not “light up the screen” with the chemistry displayed between Julia Roberts and Richard Gere they have sufficient magnetism to make the unconventional rom-com believable, pulling off some excellent vocal performances. The seemingly ubiquitous Ore Aduba is the show’s dynamo, popping up everywhere and threatening to steal the scene.  Another powerhouse is Natalie Paris (Kit de Luca) with her raucous, soulful delivery. 

The songs may not exactly live with you and your enjoyment might be determined by how much you like the powerful rock songs and romantic ballads of Bryan Adams, but they are finely crafted with reprises of refrains and motifs which elevates the musical beyond the juke box variety.  There are some clever touches, such as a reference to George Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion), and the opera La Traviata about the love of Alfredo and “fallen woman” Violetta.  The “vehicle” for the final scene is ingeniously hidden in plain sight. 

After 34 years it’s perhaps a Cinderella story that wouldn’t be made today, but it’s current enough to have Vivian stand up for equality, taking control of her actions and this is reinforced by the coup de grâce over Stuckey.

Undoubtably a crowd pleaser, delivered by a multi award winning team you might like it better than The Pirates of Penzance, and no, unfortunately that movie line and its preceding are not included in the production. 


Show Times: 2 to 13 April 2024.  Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2.30pm.

Tickets: From £31 to £121.50 (package seat). 

Suitability: 12+. Contains some moderate sexual references.