Everyone has a dream

Review: Pretty Woman, the musical

By Trevor Tiemeyer, Guest Writer

After 20 months without a live show, Broadway in Cincinnati has returned as the national tour of Pretty Woman stops at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.

With music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance and book by Garry Marshall and J. F. Lawton, the musical is rooted in the 1990 film of the same name. This tour boasts a rising actress in Olivia Valli (Vivian) and Tony-nominee Adam Pascal (Edward) alongside two-time, award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell.

One of the bright spots of the show was Kyle Taylor Parker in the role of Barnard Thompson/Happy Man.

Parker nailed this role. He perfectly executed the happy-go-lucky street dweller who inspires dreams and the caring hotel manager. Even when these roles begin to blur lines at the end of the show, Parker managed to keep the separate and special.

Another positive of the performance was the atmosphere of the show, with bright, neon colors illuminating a reborn stage. Regal set pieces added an additional backdrop for delightful dance breaks and humorous interactions between characters.

That said, there were a few apparent mistakes on stage during the showing I watched – all of which could be ignored or laughed off. For example, in the final number, when Edward began to make his daring climb up the ladder to Vivian, the set piece did not budge. It is a little difficult to face a fear of heights and save the princess of his dreams when the ladder does not move. The improvisation of Pascal and Valli quickly the scene work, barely skipping a beat.

Other issues of note were a flickering light bar at the top of the stage and unbalanced microphones that rendered some characters blaring while others remained faint. Such technical missteps were probably unnoticeable to the average viewer and probably did not distract from the show. However, as someone with a background in technical theatre, they were glaring.

I was also impressed with the Aronoff Center’s commitment to COVID-19 vaccinations. Every patron had to show their vaccination card with an accompanying photo ID before entering the building.

Consequently, I was surprised there were no seating restrictions at the venue. Audience members sat beside one another across the theater, and I was concerned I was mildly concerned. We just got theater back – I would hate for it to be put on hold again.

Despite being in a pandemic, I was thrilled to finally be around live theatre. Pretty Woman dreamt big, and they delivered; it was a true homage to the feel-good movie of the decade.  

The subsequent Broadway show touring to the Aronoff Center will be Wicked, coming Nov. Nov. 17.