Pretty Woman the Musical takes the stage at Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Academy of Music now through Sunday, January 16th

-Brenda Hillegas

Feature photo: The company of Pretty Woman the Musical by Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made

Pretty Woman is the hit 1990s movie starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere about prostitute Vivian who has a chance encounter with and is hired by wealthy businessman Edward Lewis. Certainly you know this beloved romantic comedy! Now see it brought to life on stage. Don’t miss your chance to be whisked away to Hollywood- or the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Academy of Music- now through Sunday, January 16th.

The musical’s book is by J. F. Lawton and Garry Marshall (who wrote and directed the movie respectively) and includes all original music from Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (they wrote hits like “Summer of 69” together). Add in Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell (HairsprayKinky BootsLegally Blonde) and you’ll be experiencing a Broadway gem! Pretty Woman the Musical is a must see this season!

Recently, there have been a lot of understudies and swings stepping into major roles last minute all across the world. From tours, to Broadway, to the West End. Without these extraordinary talents- who often know the lines, songs and dance moves of multiple characters in the show- performances simply would have to be canceled. This has happened a lot lately. Olivia Valli (yes, Frankie’s granddaughter) is Vivian in this tour, but she had to call out so far in Philly and understudy Becca Suskauer stepped in. WOW. Becca, a recent Penn State grad, makes her national tour debut with Pretty Woman and you’d think she was an old pro. I cannot wait to brag one day and say “I remember seeing her as an understudy for Vivian!” From a soft and soothing “This is My Life” to a full on big-hair/flashy music video feel of “I Can’t Go Back”, she nails all the songs as if they were made just for her. With that being said though, I suspect I’ll end up back at the show a time or two before it leaves Philly and I hope I can see Olivia as well!

Broadway legend Adam Pascal was just meant to be Edward and the music fits his voice perfectly! Diehard Broadway fans will know him from his Tony-nominated role of Roger in RENT and you can hear some of that rock vibe in Pretty Woman songs like “Freedom” and “You and I” (which could have been an ’80s radio hit if I didn’t know any better). Adam briefly portrayed Edward during the Broadway run as well and I secretly hoped he would be considered for the role when the show began its US tour.

Penthouses, Rodeo Drive, dancing, the opera, and the streets of the red light district fill the stage for Pretty Woman the Musical. Supporting characters who steal the show at points include Jessica Crouch as Vivian’s BFF Kit (read my Q&A with her here), Kyle Taylor Parker in dual roles as the happy man on the streets and the hotel manager, and Amma Osei with outstanding vocals as an opera singer. All your favorite moments from the film are here in the musical too, but the stage version really does stand alone.

And what about that Roy Orbison hit? Hang around for the curtain call.

For additional details and tickets, visit the Kimmel Cultural Campus website here.

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