Savoy Court, London WC2R 0ET 0844 871 7687
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Property developer hires street hooker for the week. What happens next proves that in Hollywood, dreams can come true...
Based on the movie, this is the West End production of the New York show.
The show will star Aimie Atkinson as ‘Vivian Ward’ and Danny Mac as ‘Edward Lewis’. They are joined by are Rachael Wooding as ‘Kit De Luca’, Bob Harms as ‘Happy Man/Mr Thompson’, Neil McDermott as ‘Philip Stuckey’ and Mark Holden as ‘James Morse’.
The cast is completed by Jemma Alexander, Andy Barke, Kimberly Blake, Katie Bradley, Oliver Brenin, Olivia Brookes, Alex Charles, Olly Christopher, Ben Darcy, Hannah Ducharme, Nicholas Duncan, Paige Fenlon, Damon Gould, Alex Hammond, Tom Andrew Hargreaves, Antony Hewitt, Matt Jones, Serina Mathew, Katie Monks, Joanna Woodward and Charlotte Elisabeth Yorke.
(seen at the afternoon preview performance on 29th February 2020 at the Piccadilly Theatre. Some actors have now left the cast)
The movie has always been very special to the monkey, and it has long anticipated the stage version opening in London. It came, it saw, it was happy.
Aimie Atkinson is Pretty Woman Vivian Ward. For film aficionados, the pleasure is in “This Is My Life,” her big second act song in which for the first time we learn Vivian’s personal history in greater depth as she mentions her home state. Already in love with her, with this, Ms Atkinson carries her audience to even greater heights of intimacy and approval.
She works the same magic on Edward (her favourite name, coincidence or what?!) as Danny Mac falls for her as hard as any man can. Mac is younger and fresher than Richard Gere, his ego more restrained and mind more open. He matches his lady in vocal ability, “Freedom” deserving respect as his big number and the chemistry between them is real.
There are two other huge-hitting leads in the show. Bob Harms (Happy Man) is probably so-named for making the audience deliriously happy with a triple-talent to which he adds comedy and sheer lovability. Paired with goofball gofer bellhop Alex Charles (Giulio) both steal every scene they are featured in... the monkey hopes that Mr Charles knows to put the wig in the wash after each performance, though.
There’s decent support from Rachael Wooding (Kit de Luca) as Vivian’s friend with potential and Neil McDermott (Philip) as her sleazeball enemy – his is a difficult scene to play and he manages it without upsetting the overarching balance of emotion.
In a smaller role, Mark Holden brings dignity to James Morse, Antony Hewitt likewise to son James.
Of the show itself, the songs are mostly serviceable if not instantly memorable. “On A Night Like Tonight” / “Don’t Forget To Dance” being the strongest. Most of the famous moments survive intact (“Nice Tie” doesn’t – it’s a family show) but sadly “Big Mistake, Huge” is given a moment-wrecking musical backing that should have been cut during Broadway previews.
There isn’t “It Must Have Been Love,” which is another badly needed change (pay for the rights, people) as “Long Way Home” and “Together Forever” are no substitute for those who know the moments.
It really does sag a little in act two, the opening “dream” idea pulled too thin when we just want to get on with the story. The film creates a stage script almost strong enough to stand alone without music at all, so what we get needed to be better at times than it is. A word too about the mostly serviceable set. The clumsy “cardboard cut-out” light fittings work given that something better would destroy the aesthetic, but if the aesthetic had been a little grander in the first place...
Still, this life-long fan left the theatre in awe of the cast – did it mention that the entire ensemble have potential to make you enjoy their work very much indeed? A few quibbles and some editing suggestions aside, this is a delightful, intelligent and often witty, showcase for popular musical theatre.
I wonder if I’m unusual in the Pretty Woman audience in that I’d only seen the film a couple of times (and watched it again the day after seeing the show) rather than it being one of my favourite films of all time. So I went in as a bit of a neutral.
For anyone that hasn’t seen the film (do, it’s well worth your time), the plot revolves around Vivian - played by Aimie Atkinson - a streetwalker plying her trade on Hollywood Boulevard, and Edward (her favourite name!) - played by Danny Mac - a rich corporate raider who finds himself lost on the way to his hotel from a party. The two meet when he stops for directions and is comprehensively out-hussled by Vivian. Captivated, he brings her back to his hotel and things develop from there…
For this show to work, it has to have strong leads with huge chemistry. And the casting director of Pretty Woman deserves a standing ovation. Aimee Atkinson and Danny Mac; they are a perfect pairing. Vocally they match one another, their relationship is utterly believable. They’re funny, they’re moving, the famous Piano scene? The Savoy Theatre got a whole lot hotter.
This is the show that firmly establishes Aimie Atkinson as a star. Her voice has the power and the range, but she has something you just can’t teach, an instinctive understanding of nuance. I had the pleasure of seeing her as Katherine Howard in SIX; I’ve seen other actresses perform that role - where, towards the end of her number most up the power and emotion, she took it down a level, revealing quiet anguish and despair before bringing in the intensity. And that skill is used to fine effect here. She just knows when to soften or bolden the piece. And her acting skills match her singing. Again, she knows when to be brazen, when to be vulnerable… and (this little theatre goer was quietly cheering when she did) when to up the confidence and take control.
She is matched in every way by Danny Mac. I much prefer his Edward to the Richard Gere original. Younger, utterly confident in his own ability (rather than the icy persona Gere portrays), how his initial captivation with this girl off the streets who out-hussled a man on the verge of a billion-Dollar deal, turns into something much deeper is performed so convincingly.
I must also mention Bob Harms (Happy Man/Mr Thompson/Store Owner… and quite likely 1,001 other appearances). His (Mr Thompson) relationship with Vivian is essential to making the story work. How it changes and develops, beautifully handled, stepping up to lead when needed, stepping back to give Vivian centre stage adroitly. And then there is Guilio the Bellboy, played with scene-stealing glee by Alex Charles. Harms and Charles are a wonderful double-act (and wow can they dance!), bringing light relief at just the right moments.
Can I take a moment to praise the Wigs team: There are a lot of wigs in Pretty Woman… but the one they plop on Bob Harm’s head to change him into the store manager? Hysterical for the audience, they must have had huge fun with it (you’ll see what I mean at the show).
I’m pleased to see Vivian’s friend Kit de Luca (Rachael Wooding) get more time; she’s an underused character in the film, her role is enhanced here and Ms Wooding does it justice. And Neil McDermott as Edward’s lawyer (and enemy of Vivian) Philip Stuckey? Portrayed with just the right note of sleaze (his panto boos at curtain call are well deserved). Not giving the game away, but one of the big changes from the film happens during one of their scenes together..very much the right change to make.
The rest of the cast all do their bit. This is a talented ensemble, and I’m glad to see each one get a chance to shine.
The score by Bryan Adams? It’s strong without perhaps being memorable (the standout numbers being ‘This Is My Life’ and ‘Freedom’), but it gives the cast plenty to work with. The set? I rather liked it. It’s essentially simple, being happy to fade into the background… though there is a rather clever moment at the end where something just there becomes prominent, causing a big smile on a lot of faces.
The show doesn’t slavishly ape the film (all the better for it); it draws upon the subject matter, wisely keeping very close to the original where needed (and where the fanbase would riot if strayed too far from the narrative), but enhances certain areas and gives more time to some of the characters, again no bad thing. Something I really liked about the show's book, how Vivian’s journey is changed. Yes, there are moments when Edward takes the lead (the Rodeo Drive shop retains it’s original direction), but there are moments when Vivian was “saved” in the film, that now see her take control, and the story is all the better for it.
But this is a joyous show, with a cast that more than does it justice. If you don’t come away happy, I’ll be surprised.
Seat Review: Stalls P13 and 14
Great seats, dead centre of the row/stage, they are just in front of the Circle so no threat of overhang. The Savoy’s rake is decent, so no “tall person in front” issues for my 5ft ½ inch wife Laura. I did fidget a little towards the end of the first half, but by and large it was comfortable enough with reasonable legroom.
On a later visit:
G10 and 11. Labelled as restricted view... and they do exactly what they say on the label. You lose the front of the stage, the rail in front (and the rail in front of that) conspire to block if you try to look under them. Legroom is poor and comfort isn't great. Buy only if heavily discounted/you're desperate to see the show and nothing else is left in your price range.”
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday at 2.30pm
NO MONDAY PERFORMANCES.
Runs 2 hours 30 minutes approximately.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.
Tuesday to Thursday
Friday to Sunday
DAY SEATS: An "on the day discount" used at box office discretion, depending on availability. Tickets will be "best available." The box office is currently open from 12pm daily Tuesday-Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
RUSH TICKETS: App Todaytix are offering £25 "Rush tickets," located at venue discretion, for all performances. Released for the performance on that day, first-come, first-served. Download the App from Todaytix, unlock the "Rush Ticketing" feature by sharing on Facebook or Twitter, and that will allow you to buy tickets.