Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Broadway in Tucson Review: "Pretty Woman"

Easygoing, free-spirited and fun, "Pretty Woman" is a joy to behold. 

Its cast sparkles with an overpowering sense of fun that makes it seem as though they can't believe they're getting paid to do what they do. The infectious sense of joy wafts through the audience, which is filled with giggles and applause. 

Effervescent and boisterous as call-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold Vivian, Olivia Valli buoys the show with a charismatic and tireless lead performance, powering nearly every scene with her arresting performance.

Intentionally stiff and proper as wealthy businessman Edward Lewis, Adam Pascal is her apt counterpoint. His staid, proper persona melts away for occasional bursts of joyous energy, underlining the character's transformation.

The script hews close to the film, including the giant cell phone 1990 Los Angeles setting, but changes things up in a few key places to add some welcome flourishes. Although the landmark performances of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere set the template, Valli and Pascal make the characters their own. Also making her mark is Keyonna Knight as Kit De Luca, Vivian's friend who supports her unlikely rise to the high life.

Vivacious ensemble performances by the likes of Nella Cole, Natalie Bourgeois, Carissa Gaughran, Matthew Stocke and Christian Brailsford pace the show's myriad set swaps and costume changes, taking the scene from ritzy dance halls, dingy street corners, to country clubs and the opera.

The most impressive addition is that of Happy Man (Michael Dalke), a mulleted burst of sunshine who plays myriad characters, including a hotel manager, homeless star maps distributer and even a band pit composer. The magical realism-infused character serves as the spiritual North Star of the production, signifying a self-belief in defiant dreams that leads to success and fulfillment.

Although bursting with positive messaging and boundless romance, "Pretty Woman" never strays into preachy territory. Its upbeat, heart-lifting tone gets your heart thumping along to its beat.

"Pretty Woman" plays at Centennial Hall through July 24. For tickets, click here.

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