The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Iconic romcom takes to the stage Pretty Woman: The Musical


Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Tuesday until Nov 25; His Majesty’s, Aberdeen, Jan 15-20; Edinburgh Playhouse, April 2-13

Beloved by film fans for more than 30 years and the most successful romantic comedy of all time, there was perhaps an inevitabil­ity to Pretty Woman being given the stage musical treatment.

Yet the movie’s director and co-writer, Hollywood legend Garry Marshall, didn’t see the potential for a long time. It was his wife, Barbara, who pushed him to consider it.

“I kept saying to him ‘you know, this could be a musical’ and he’d say ‘yeah, okay’ but nothing happened,” she said. “Finally, maybe 15 or more years later, he and J F Lawton (the film’s writer) started writing together one day a week, every Wednesday, in Garry’s office for five years.”

Sadly, Garry never got to see the success of Pretty Woman: The Musical. He passed away in 2016, aged 81, and missed out on watching it on Broadway and in the West End. It has since gone on to do great business globally and is currently on a UK tour.

“Had someone told him it would be such a hit around the world, he wouldn’t have believed it,” smiled

Barbara, who, with daughter Kathleen, has ensured Garry continues to be represente­d as the musical plays to internatio­nal audiences.

New Yorker Garry got his break writing jokes for The Tonight Show, before adapting The Odd Couple for the small screen. He created one of the biggest sitcoms of all time, Happy Days, as well as spin-offs Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy. His movies included Overboard and Beaches, but none was as big as Pretty Woman.

Starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, the original story was darker than the one we know. Sex worker Vivian was struggling with a cocaine addiction and Edward abandoned her at the end. Garry instead moulded it into a fairytale rom-com where Vivian, now much more resilient, and Edward fell for each other.

“After he got the script, he freshened it up and he made her into this strong woman,” Barbara said.

Kathleen has fond memories of the movie. She appeared in the film, as she did in all of her dad’s production­s, and recalls it being an easy shoot.

“It was a small movie at the time and the studio left them to get on with it,” she said. “In my memories, there’s a lot of Julia and Richard and my dad together, sorting out ‘how are we going to do this?’ and ‘how are we going to do that?’ He was very collaborat­ive and there wasn’t a lot of stress because they didn’t know what it was going to be and if it was going to work.

“It was scripted but it was an interestin­g collaborat­ion, finding little bits about Julia he could put in.”

The film, which made $463.4million, continues to find new fans with every passing generation.

According to Kathleen, the stage version strengthen­s the characters even more. “And they made it a little more modern but it’s still got the nostalgia and those iconic moments. People still love to see Edward arrive at that fire escape.”

Bryan Adams and songwritin­g partner Jim Vallance wrote the score, which is influenced by late-’80s and early-’90s rock and pop, while Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman is also included.

The UK tour stars Love Island winner turned musical theatre star Amber Davies as Vivian, Oliver Savile as Edward, Natalie Paris as Kit and Ore Oduba as Happy Man/Mr Thompson.

The original Vivian, Julia Roberts, has been to see the musical.

“She came and met the cast and we took pictures on the stage,” Barbara added. “She was very cute. We were sitting together during the show and she would lean over and say, ‘I wrote that line’.”

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