Monday, May 20

Pretty Woman – Palace Theatre Manchester

The Palace Theatre Manchester opened its doors to ‘Pretty Woman the Musical’ as a part of its UK tour, derived from the book by Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton with Music and Lyrics from Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.

The 1990 romantic comedy was a huge success on screen starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts and was directed by Garry Marshall which received several awards during its time, so I was intrigued to see how it would transfer onto a musical theatre stage.

The storyline is based on a billionaire corporate raider businessman Edward Lewis (Ben Darcy) who finds himself in Hollywood whilst working on his latest deal, when lost in the city he meets Vivian Ward (Paige Fenlon) a street worker, the confident prostitute manages to win his attention with her cheeky charm and her knowledge of classic cars and offers to drive him to his hotel. Edward intrigued by Vivian hires her to stay for the night at his exclusive penthouse in the infamous Beverly Wilshire, which then leads to a six-day deal for 3000 dollars for her to accompany and entertain him whilst sealing the deal on his latest adventure.

The story is essentially a mixed adult version of Cinderella where the damson in rags wins her prince charming and a mix of My Fair Lady’s Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins, however the plot of Pretty Woman is gentle and rather charming watching Vivian evolve into an elegant lady. 

The stage, set and scenery are a huge credit to the creative team in this production as it was a stunning visual delight to watch the scenes move seamlessly throughout the evening, creating the most wonderful settings from the hotel room right through to the evening at the opera house.

The Production Team delivered a fantastic display of costumes throughout the production which enhanced the whole evening visually. Director and Choreographer Jerry Mitchell has done a sterling job on this production as not only is it true to the original book and screening it is also vibrant and new.

Many of the cast played multiple roles but the most outstanding delivery was that of Ore Oduba who played the Happy Man and The Hotel Manager Mr Thompson, for me he held the whole show together and completely won the audience by his exquisite dance moves and stage presence. I particularly enjoyed his coupling with dance partner Giulio (Noah Harrison) the hotel concierge and bellboy and their sweet encounters during the show.

Stand out vocals from Natalie Paris who played Vivian’s sex worker friend Kit De Luca and also from Lila Falce-Bass who delivered the role of Violetta and a bag lady.

Both lead roles were played by the understudies on press night, however, their on-stage chemistry was totally believable, and both delivered a first-class performance with pitch perfect vocals throughout.

The show was a little raunchy at times which certainly makes it a 12+ rating and not for the easily embarrassed.

The entire cast and ensemble delivered outstanding performances, the show doesn’t have many memorable songs and I only recognised one out of the whole 20 plus tracks. However, the one song that I did recognise was ‘I Can’t Go Back’ and Fenlon absolutely blew me away with her powerhouse vocals.

The show is undoubtably heartwarming with a feel-good factor which will certainly uplift your mood, but I am aware that the narrative is open to criticism, but I am a romanticist, so I personally thoroughly enjoyed watching the romantic journey between Edward and Vivian and even shed a tear when he came to rescue her on his illuminated white horse.

If you are looking for a night of escapism and romance, then Pretty Woman is the one to watch as it will leave your heart full of warmth and the belief that fairy tales can come true.

Well done to all involved for what is a wholesome production of this popular love story.

Playing until 16th March,

Reviewer: Katie Leicester

Reviewed: 27th February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.