Review: ‘Pretty Woman the Musical’ from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

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Photo via Cultural Trust

Last Tuesday, my musical loving friend, Sarah P, and I ventured to the Benedum to see “Pretty Woman” the musical. Based upon the 1990’s movie, it is a Cinderella fairy tale of sorts for the modern age. The show began with an elaborate musical/dance number welcoming the audience to Hollywood, the land of dreams. A very funny and charismatic MC sings about the allure of Hollywood where people go to make their dreams come true. The glitz and glamor of the opening number moves into the gritty existence of the life of prostitutes featuring the lead character Vivian Ward and her fairy godmother of sorts, Kit De Luca.  Vivian’s life turns upside down when she meets her version of a prince, Edward Lewis, a disillusioned lawyer/businessman who finds himself lost in the “turf” belonging to Kit and Vivian. Kit pushes Vivian toward Edward telling her not to take less than $100.00 and so the fairy tale begins. Vivian knows how to drive Edward’s Lotus, which he borrowed from his lawyer, a money grubbing evil character. Vivian soon finds herself at a very exclusive hotel and taking an offer from Edward to be his escort for the week. Along with great singing and dancing, there is a night at the opera where singer Amma Osei, shows off her gorgeous voice, to the Polo club. 

Sometimes we need fairy tales to help us through life, and a feel good ending (however implausible it may seem), is just what we need.

What struck me was that among the glitz and glitter, Vivian talks about how she fell into the life of a prostitute after fleeing an abusive home (where her mother constantly told her was a nobody) with a boyfriend who dumped her shortly after their arrival in California. Short on money and opportunity, she soon found herself falling into the “oldest profession.” She also talks about how she only finished 11th grade, but knows that she can have more than the life of a prostitute. The musical shows how she is treated poorly because of the way she dresses, even when Edward gives her his exclusive credit card. No one on Rodeo Drive will serve her until the hotel manager steps in to help and transforms her from, well a prostitute, to a pretty woman. 

In some ways, the glossy sheen of the dance numbers and the wonderful music hides the uncomfortable truth about what abuse and lack of opportunity can do to a woman. In the end of course, she gets her prince and the life of luxury. Sometimes we need fairy tales to help us through life, and a feel good ending (however implausible it may seem), is just what we need.

The Benedum is still requiring masks and proof of vaccination status. 

Note – we received two media tickets in exchange for our review of this performance.

Pretty Woman the Musical is part of the Cultural Trust Broadway & Musical Theater series. Upcoming shows include:

Hamilton Tue, Feb 22 – Sun, Mar 13, 2022
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical Fri, Mar 18 – Sun, Mar 20, 2022
To Kill A Mockingbird Tue, Apr 19 – Sun, Apr 24, 2022
Ain’t Too Proud Tue, May 17 – Sun, May 22, 2022
Hadestown Tue, Nov 15 – Sun, Nov 20, 2022

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  • “his lawyer, a money grubbing evil character.” Was played by my Cousin Matthew Stocke (a CMU musical theatre grad and Greentree kid). He’s been living in Hells Kitchen for 27 years and he’s been in numerous plays (including our own City Theatre around the world. ) He was starring in the lead in The Full Monty on Broadway when the cast was invited to perform at Britain’s Royal Variety show. [His mother, his aunt and I went along. We were speechless when we found out that the designated royal was Queen Elizabeth, II, escorted by Prince Phillip. We thought we had bad balcony seats until they came in with the Royal Box was only feet from us. The emcee was Sir Elton John and when he came out he looked up to her and said “oh, I see that the other Queen is here too”.]

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