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NME Afterprint: Pretty Woman the Musical (Review)

Ellie Baker and Chase Wolfe in Pretty Woman. Photo by Richard Bowditch
Ellie Baker and Chase Wolfe in Pretty Woman. Photo by Richard Bowditch

I was a bit surprised when I heard the film Pretty Woman was becoming a musical. Back in 1990, many people wondered who would be interested in watching a movie about a prostitute who falls in love with a billionaire. However, those critics were proven wrong when the film made $463.4 million worldwide. It has become a nostalgic classic, often called a modern-day Cinderella story. Now it's a musical.

When I first heard about this musical adaptation, I couldn't help but wonder how it would translate on stage. Luckily, I had the opportunity to find out on Opening Night at Popejoy Hall. The opening number, "Welcome to Hollywood," was upbeat and poppy, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.

If you've seen the movie, approach this production with an open mind. It doesn't quite capture the same fuzzy feeling as the film. But, the talented Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance created a new set of emotions with the music. The musical numbers were entertaining, with a few standing out in particular. "Rodeo Drive" showcased the impressive vocal talents of Rae Davenport portraying Kit De Luca, while Vivian's theme song, "Anywhere But Here," was elegantly meaningful. "You're Beautiful" put a twist on the iconic song named after the musical's namesake. "On a Night Like Tonight" presented a wonderful "My Fair Lady" moment, replacing the escargot scene with a dance lesson. Mr. Thompson, played by Adam Du Plessis, and the Ensemble delivered an enjoyable performance that drew the audience in and didn't let go. However, the standout number was "You and I," which combined the exquisite red dress, the famous necklace scene, and a moment at the opera. The merging of this expressive ballad with the opera La Traviata was creative and well-executed. The choreography perfectly complemented the music, creating an upbeat and entertaining experience.

Three performers who brought a fresh take to their characters were Adam Du Plessis, Liam Searcy, and Matthew Blum. Plessis shone in the role of Barney Thompson and impressed the audience even more by playing three characters, including the Happy Man. Blum was enchanting as the Bell Boy, stealing the show every time he stepped on stage. And just when you thought Philip Stuckey couldn't be more slimy, Liam Searcy's portrayal took the character to new levels of misogyny, surpassing Jason Alexander's performance in the movie.

Creating this musical must have been quite a challenge. On-screen, there was a clear give-and-take between the main characters, allowing us to see what Vivian brought out in Edward and vice versa. In this adaptation, the focus seems to be on what Vivian brings out in Edward, with the audience hearing Edward's thoughts through song. A creative way to expand on his character, considering Edward didn't have many lines in the film. However, we wanted more insight into what Edward brought out in Vivian. Nevertheless, the chemistry between the two actors, Ellie Baker and Chase Wolfe, was undeniable. They were delightful together - managing to keep the nostalgia of the memorable characters while making them their own.

A friend once shared an anecdote about musicals, questioning their purpose and why one should see a show instead of simply renting or buying the film. The answer lies in the experience. "Pretty Woman," as a musical, offers an entertaining night out at the theater that everyone should experience.

Pretty Woman runs from January 25 - 28, 2024 at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque. To learn more or to puchase your tickets visit


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