Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Review: Pretty Woman The Musical

Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

Now through January 16, Pretty Woman: The Musical is playing at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music. Last night I attended the show, after having recently watched the movie for the first time ever and loving it! Did the musical also blow me away? Read on for my thoughts.

The day of the show I was notified that Olivia Valli, who plays Vivian Ward, was unable to make the performance, so Becca Suskauer took on this important role. A recent Penn State grad, this is Becca’s first national tour, and I think she did a terrific job of exuding the charisma and personality of Vivian, first made famous by Julia Roberts in the 1990 Garry Marshall.

Adam Pascal who plays Richard Gere’s character, Edward Lewis, was exceptional. A member of the original 1996 cast of Rent, Adam’s voice is fascinatingly unique. He doesn’t have the traditional tenor of a Broadway star. Rather, he has more of an everyman sound, like Don Henley: a raw, authentic, and wonderfully potent voice that commands attention.

Kyle Taylor Parker, who played numerous roles in the musical, may have stolen the show. His vocal ability, fun-loving nature, and comedic timing made it so he stole every scene he was in. The crowd rewarded his immense talent with a riotous ovation during the curtain call. Parker is an exceptional talent, and I hope to see him in more shows.

As I write this, I’m listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Pretty Woman: The Musical. The music for this show is well done. Some songs are spectacular, while others are merely good. However, none are bad or terrible. While James Newton Howard’s brilliant score doesn’t make an appearance, Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” does show up in a crowd-pleasing, hand-clapping way that’s fun to experience in person. The music in Pretty Woman: The Musical is driven by piano and guitar, lending it a modern sound akin to Wicked. Personally, I love this, and the heavy reliance on piano is a fitting tribute to the magic that James Newton Howard achieved in the motion picture. Highlights include “Welcome to Hollywood,” “Anywhere but Here,” and “Something About Her,” among others.

Pretty Woman: The Musical is a wonderful show that will make you smile, regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the tremendous movie that inspired it. The actors are likeable, formidable, and vocally impressive. The songs are original, compelling, and modern, replete with impactful arrangements reflective of the terrific music in the movie. In these times when it seems hard to find something positive in this world to enjoy, Pretty Woman: The Musical is a shining light representing a well-needed respite. I encourage you to pick up a ticket, leave the world outside, and enjoy the show.

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