Last night was the big night--the highty-anticipated World Premiere of the Broadway-Bound "Pretty Woman: The Musical" at Chicago's Oriental Theatre. All the stars were out on the red carpet being interviewed, while television crews elbowed for prime position and iphones were held high in order to capture those instagram moments.
The excitement was evident as the crowd headed to their seats to see the popular 1990 rom-com movie transformed into a musical for today's theater-goers.
Most of us in the audience, including some who had come as far as Australia to see the show, knew the Pygmalion-like story of the girl who is transformed into a lady and the man who makes it all possible.
Before attending the show, I wondered how this was going to fly in the face of the #MeToo movement.
Billed as a modern spin on Cinderella, the story teams Vivian, a spirited diamond in the rough working the streets as a hooker but dreaming of something better with billionaire Edward, who finds himself lost in her part of town.
27-year-old, Samantha Barks (Vivian Ward) "Les Miserables" Hollywood Film Festivals' Best female newcomer and more, was the perfect choice to pull off the hooker turned lady role (played in the movie by Julia Roberts).
Barks was strong, witty and has great pipes. She more than held her own and suppressed my worries about the story being too sexist for the times.
The production with original music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner Bryan Adams and his longtime songwriting partner Jim Vallance, book by Garry Marshall and the film’s screenwriter J.F. Lawton, directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell has an exciting Broadway vibe with its beautiful sets, costumes and award-winning actors.
The cast, in addition to Barks, features Steve Kazee in the Edward Lewis role (played by Richard Gere in the movie). Maybe because of worries about sexism, Kazee's Lewis was needy, weak and too sensitive for a shrewd New York businessman who makes his millions by raiding failing corporations.
Tony Award nominee Orfeh (Legally Blonde) nailed the role of ‘Kit.’ Eric Anderson (Waitress) was believable and likeable as ‘Mr. Thompson.’ Rounding out the all-star cast are: Jason Danieley (The Full Monty) as ‘Philip Stuckey,’ and Kingsley Leggs (Sister Act) as ‘James Morse’ and a top-notch ensemble of 24 that includes Allison Blackwell, Tommy Bracco, Brian Calì, Robby Clater, Jessica Crouch, Anna Eilinsfeld, Matt Farcher, Lauren Lim Jackson, Renée Marino, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Jillian Mueller, Jake Odmark, Jennifer Sanchez, Matthew Stocke, Alex Michael Stoll, Alan Wiggins, Jesse Wildman and Darius Wright
The creative scenic design was by David Rockwell, with costume design by Gregg Barnes, lighting design by Kenneth Posner & Philip S. Rosenberg, sound design by John Shivers, hair design by Josh Marquette, music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Will Van Dyke and casting by Telsey + Company.
Tickets and information
Rating: 3 (out of 4) stars.
What: Pretty Woman: The Musical.
Where: Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph St.)
When: now through April 18.
Tickets: $33-125 are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices, the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at 800.775.2000, and online.
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.
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