A CurtainUp London Review
Featured in the film for the woman, working as a prostitute on Sunset Boulevard, is a visit to the opera where La Traviata is showing. Now Verdi's opera is a love story between a prostitute or a kept woman in 19th century Paris and a rich younger man. Should current productions of Traviata reflect the change in societal values towards women? Of course not. See how much trouble we cause when we try to rewrite Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew with a feminist slant! About the best that can be done with that play is to act it tongue in cheek with Katerina playing the game of deceiving her husband into thinking he has won!
If you think about it poor girl meeting rich man who marries her is the theme of Cinderella. The socialist GB Shaw's slant on this ancient theme was Pygmalion where a professor lays a bet that he cannot take a street urchin and let her pass as a lady in upper class society. Some of the Pretty Woman story line also has the re-packaging of Vivian (Aimie Atkinson) as a companion for the ultra rich asset stripper Edward Lewis (Danny Mac) akin to Eliza Dolittle's preparation for high society.
Pretty Woman is an unashamedly romantic story and there is some sexual chemistry to be felt between Aimie Atkinson as Vivian and Danny Mac as Edward due to good acting. They both can dance and both have very good voices and as I didn't go expecting the tunes of Roy Orbison in a musical, the songs started to grow on me. We really like Vivian immediately for her sincerity and warmth, her enthusiasm for the luxury of the hotel penthouse suite.
I was blown away by the phenomenal performance of Bob Harms as the link man, Happy Man the mover on the street in Sunset Boulevard and as the hotel manager, Mr Thompson, as the tango teacher, as a designer dress shop manager on Rodeo Drive and as the conductor at the opera. Is there any limit to this man's talent? He can dance, has a strong singing voice and many of his interventions have a comic result like the all male tango demonstration for Vivian to pick up the moves. I should also mention Rachael Wooding as Vivian's friend Kit and Alex Charles as the often comic bellboy, Giulio.
The director Jerry Mitchell, also choreographs, as he did for the musical Kinky Boots. I liked the group choreography, besides our two main principals who tango and quick step or is it a waltz? There are street scenes where the choreography is originally natural, men with mullets mixing with tarts on Sunset Boulevard or the more formal ball room scenes and the aftershow gala. Remember, a few years back, Danny Mac was a runner up on Strictly Come Dancing and Aimie Atkinson was the Ariana Grande modelled, sexy fifth queen who lost her head at 19, Katherine Howard in Six.
In the Beverley Wilshire hotel, Edward wants to talk but Vivian wiggles her attractive derriere and she is jokey and flirty. When he talks about his occupation, she says, "So you don't do anything, you don't make anything . . . it's like stealing cars and selling the parts!"
Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance's score is likable and I especially enjoyed the tango rhythmed "On a Night Like Tonight" and the ultimate love songs "You and I" and "You're beautiful". The Roy Orbison song "Pretty Woman" forms a part of the curtain call, although we don't get to hear Orbison's wonderfully cracking voice
David Rockwell's set for the hotel recreates the famous arch with twinkling lights, stars and a deep blue sky. A vertical trap lift brings a single actor onstage centre at some of the scene changes which always brings a smile. Inside, the hotel penthouse has a grand piano for impromptu sex scenes. The lighting is colourful. David Rockwell's designer costumes from the Rodeo Drive shops are as desirable as Vivian's cut away, midriff revealing, working outfit is tacky.
The scene at the snooty Polo Club has a famous rejoinder from Vivian when faced with the young women rivals landing at Edward's feet. Through contact with Vivian, Edward rethinks his career values and Vivian sticks to her Hollywood Dream. Don't miss these two big stars in the making, Aimie Atkinson and Danny Mac. Both sing excellently and she is beautiful and he is handsome, both are charming as in all fairy tales. Enjoy!
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Book by Garry Marshall and JF Lawton
Music and Lyrics: Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance
Directed and Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell
Starring: Aimie Atkinson, Danny Mac, Bob Harms, Rachael Wooding, James Morse, Kimberley Blake, Alex Charles, Neil McDermott
With: Jemma Alexander, Andy Barke, Kimberley Blake, Oliver Brenin, Ben Darcy, Daniel de Bourg, Hannah Ducharme, Paige Fenlon, Alex Hammaond, Antony Hewitt, Serina Matthew, Lily Wang, Joanna Woodward
Music Supervisor, Arrangements and Orchestrations: Will Van Dyke
Scenic Designer: David Rockwell
Costume Design: Tom Rogers
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner, Philip S Rosenberg
Sound Design: John Shivers
Running time: Two hour 30 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 0844 871 3014
Booking to 2nd January 2020
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 2nd March 2020 at the Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, London W1D 7DY (Tube: Piccadilly Circus)
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