REVEW: Pretty Woman at The Alexandra

There's a huge selection of really great musicals touring the UK at the moment. Musicals that have a strong cast, or maybe an amazing soundtrack - and then, there's Pretty Woman...which is on the next level.

Based on the 1990 film of the same name, the musical centres around Vivian Ward, a free spirited Hollywood prostitute who lives with her sarcastic wisecracking best friend and roommate Kit De Luca. Vivian is hired by Edward Lewis, a handsome wealthy businessman, to be his escort for several business and social functions, and the story tells of their developing relationship over the course of her week-long stay with him. The show opened on Broadway in 2018 before transferring to the West End in 2020.

I think it's important to admit at this point - full disclosure - I've never seen the film (much to my wife's disgust). One thing I am conscious of, however, is the cult status this story holds. Pretty Woman is regularly voted one of the greatest films of all time and there's a risk that the production loses the sparkle that the big-screen equivalent thrives on when it transfers to the stage. There's concern around over simplification of a plot and the loss of iconic moments which could make this a shadow of the piece that audiences loved.

That's absolutely not the case here. Pretty Woman is an out-and-out triumph from the first bar of the overture and that's down to a perfect storm of the creative process behind its creation and the performers on the stage.

Natalie Paris takes on the role of Kit De Luca, Vivian's best friend and confidante, and is exceptional. Her vocal range is astonishing and the power in both her voice and her overall performance is mesmerising. Paris joins the company, fresh from playing a powerful, strong woman in Six and that power and emotion has transferred across to 80s Hollywood in droves.

Ore Oduba is cast a number of roles but, most prominently, that of the Happy Man and Mr Thompson, the GM of the Beverley Wiltshire hotel. Oduba is probably best known to many as a presenter and the winner of the 14th series of Strictly back in 2016. However he's carving out a career for himself on stage in roles that allow him to be a lovable cheeky chap - a persona that's continued here too.

Oduba thrives in this role, which could easily have been written for him. It allows him to develop a relationship with the audience that had them on his side from the start. Much like that love you have for the comedy character in a pantomime, Oduba's personality is allowed to shine through and confirms he's an exceptional piece of casting.

Talking of which - can we take a minute to talk about Amber Davies and Oliver Savile who's performances as Vivian and Edward respectively are out of this world.

For anyone who's never heard of Pretty Woman and who, therefore, has no concept of the cult status of these characters - think Sandy and Danny, or Baby and Johnny. Julia Roberts and Richard Gere elevated the duo to infamy and made the prospect of bringing them to life a heady mixture of excitement and trepidation for any actor.

Savile gives an outstanding performance as Edward, balancing just the right amount of humour alongside a good dose of 'sexy billionaire'! His chemistry with Davies is believable and palpable and his charisma shines through. This performance is clearly Savile's version of the character rather than an attempt to give a carbon copy of Gere's - something the audience are grateful for.

However, for me, this show belongs to Amber Davies. It's definitely right to recognise this production has a reliance on the wider ensemble and thrives on the connection and group harmony that each member of the cast plays a part in. However, Davies' ability to lead the company in a role widely considered to be one of the greatest female characters in film history, without becoming a caricature of those who went before her is exceptional.

The nuances to her performance, her timing, her vocals and her confidence in Ward's shoes are admirable. Davies has an amazing knack of being able to play characters who are seen as the 'underdog' but who's arc develops them into strong, confident women. She did it with Judy in 9to5 and she's done it again here.

Special mention should go to her rendition of I Can't Go Back which was nothing short of a masterclass. Absorbing, powerful and uplifting, her vocals soared and, as was the case with a good selection of her solo's, the audience response proved why Davies is fast becoming one of the most prominent leading ladies in the industry.

Pretty Woman is a strong, powerful, rollercoaster of a show that has the moments the audience want to see and the costumes and scenes that evoke memories of a film they adore. However, it also boasts a cast with a new take and a new perspective on Vivian and Edwards story and a strong, uplifting soundtrack that gets you out of your seats and clapping in the aisles - it's the perfect mix of old and new and most importantly is a show with a big heart.

Big. HUGE.

Pretty Woman plays at The Alexandra until Saturday 28th October, before returning for a second run in August 2024. For more information, or to get your tickets, visit

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