Home » Review: PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL⭐️⭐️⭐️ is Only a Fair Maiden at Beatrix Theater Utrecht

Review: PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL⭐️⭐️⭐️ is Only a Fair Maiden at Beatrix Theater Utrecht


Pretty Woman. The well-beloved feature film from 1990 starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. A romantic comedy, an icon,  a classic in the genre. 

The rich businessman Edward picks up down-on-her-luck prostitute Vivian at Hollywood Boulevard and slowly falls for her. When he invites her to stay the week with him, slowly they fall in love, but will this love survive?

The film was a raging success. Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe win and ultra-fame for its’ leading lady. How does this film translate to the stage, in a musical?

The stage adaptation:
Music & lyrics: Bryan Adams & Jim Vallance, translated by Lisa Loeb
Original script by Garry Marshal & J.F. Lawton. In a direction by Carline Brouwer, we go back to the late 80’s, earlier 90’s. 

Welcome to Hollywood! 
What’s your dream? A question posed in the opening scene by “Happy Man/ Mr. Thompson/ Hollister” Mitch Wolterink, in a triple role extravaganza. As the Happy Man he narrates the story but he shines extra bright as hotel manager Mr. Thompson. As the manager, he is a partner in crime and shows a huge heart for Vivian and helps her in her time of need. 

Shanna Slaap steals the show as Vivian. Her comedic timing and her down-to-earth Vivian makes her a charming sight to behold. Jan Kooijman is Edward Lewis. His Edward is a little timid and lacks a certain gravitas. He has worked very hard on his singing, which doesn’t go unnoticed (as Jan is dancer/actor originally, singing is not his first forte) 

It really is too bad that the songs written for this musical are vanilla at best. Musically and dramatically it is neither here nor there. It can be best described as soft generic non-descript pop songs and lack dramatic structure and direction. The translation unfortunately doesn’t help. Very literal translations, but also, very literal storytelling.
The ‘Freedom’ (translated as… shocker… “Vrijheid”) song is an excellent example. Where would we, the audience, see the desire for freedom in Edward, anywhere else than in the repetitive song that is “Freedom”? To what end does he desire freedom? We don’t see any evidence that the rich business man is anything but free.  Where does his action show this in the narrative? Nowhere Edward is not free. He has money, he works a job which he freely chose for, no-one forced him to do so. He is not the victim, if there is any, that is debatable, and this is a victim song. 

Same goes for I Can’t Go Back (Ik Kan Niet Terug), sung by Vivian in act II. This song answers a question which wasn’t asked. The change in Vivian from prostitute to ‘pretty woman’ happens so quickly, that there’s no question that she’s going back. There’s no build up, there’s no struggle, she just changes and there’s that. Structurally, the script is all over the place. Of course, she can’t go back, why would she? 
The bizarre and – let’s be honest- redundant plot twist that Kit DeLuca (belting powerhouse Dana van der Geer) is also leaving the bizz to become a police officer? Come on now. The total opposite of her previous life? The savior complex runs deep here. 
So the book isn’t all that good. 

Review: PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL⭐️⭐️⭐️ is Only a Fair Maiden at Beatrix Theater Utrecht

But thank heavens for the ensemble. Energetic, strong dancers and funny. Jimi Hendrikse as the hysterical butler, lovely. Froukje Zuidema knocks it out of the park singing opera (in the scene Vivian and Edward visit the opera house).
Also standing out is Reinier Demeijer as Edward’s business partner Philip Stuckey, a strong and solid performance. 

The scenes are too short to really dig deep or lay a dramatic foundation. The seduction / sexy scenes are faded out too soon, the emotional scenes are cut short, and between the scenes are nonsensical intermezzos by the ensemble, from waving with a dark black cloth to other -clearly put in to win some time- out-of-context scenes. They’re redundant and confusing, not adding anything the story and just plain adding to the ‘huh?’ feeling.

In general, Pretty Woman the Musical looks great, but lacks depth. If only the underlying story was explored a little bit more and the music would be more written with dramatic purpose in mind, it would have been wonderful. This Pretty Woman is only a fair maiden, unfortunately.

Photo credits: William Rutten 

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