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Pretty Woman | New Wimbledon Theatre

Based on the 1990's romantic comedy movie of the same title, Pretty Woman, which is directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, and developed by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, follows Vivian Ward and Edward Lewis and their relationship despite coming from entirely different worlds. Whilst the musical falls short of the effortless charm of the film, it's a faithful adaptation that brings its own fun perspective to this beloved world. 

The musical relies on the audience to have prior knowledge of the film as it launches right into the seedy streets of Los Angeles with no context. The musical is aimed at a particular demographic and from the audience's reactions, it delivers a hit. However for the average theatre goer, the show takes a while to warm up, but is ultimately a fun night out and a surprisingly entertaining watch. 

Noah Harrison as Giulio (the bell boy) steals every scene he's in, with his mischievous antics. Sydnie Hocknell (currently covering the role) does a remarkable job of capturing the energy and life of Vivian Ward. Lila Falce-Bass is phenomenal as Violetta, the opera singer. Oliver Saville brings gusto to his leading man Edward Lewis. Natalie Paris and Ore Oduba as Kit De Luca and Mr. Thompson both do an incredible job of bringing heart to the show. 

The show feels divided, with the first act struggling to engage properly with the material. Whilst it includes many of the movie's iconic scenes, it struggles to translate to a musical. Heavily emotional songs are thrust into the show with no built up momentum, and the characters struggle to feel real or believable. Other than Edward's solo song "Freedom," the first half doesn't present any memorable songs, and the songs feel almost misplaced. The leads have strong vocals that aren't showcased or used to their full potential.

However the second half steps up and delivers on the potential we see glimpses of in the first half. With powerful numbers, a strong narrative, good pacing and a clearer understanding of the characters, the show feels elevated. The characters are fully developed and the relationships are expanded more, leading to some particularly emotional moments between Vivian and Mr. Thompson. Another beautifully stirring moment of Vivian and Edward at the opera is the show's strongest point, integrating dance and music. With back to back songs, blending characters and genres together, the soundtrack stands out well in the latter half. The show admirably opts to make minor changes from its film that helps make it more appropriate (a scene where Vivian is previously assaulted is changed to her fighting back). 

The set design (David Rockwell) perfectly conveys the rough but colourful streets and the grand and classy hotel, anchored with trees spread about. The lighting work (Kenneth Posner and Philip S. Rosenberg) is stunning, blending spotlights and multi-coloured lighting. Special attention has been given to hair, make up and costume (Josh Marquette, Fiona Mifsud and Tom Rogers,) bringing the iconic Vivian looks to the stage and it was remarkably alluring and captivating to see Vivian's transformation with the red dress.

Pretty Woman may have a slow and questionable start, but once the show finds itself in the second half, it becomes an enjoyable watch and for fans of the original movie, it's an unmissable experience. For more tickets and information, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Marc Brenner


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