Pretty Woman's pretty mixed reviews on Broadway


Samantha Barks and Andy KarlImage copyright
Matthew Murphy

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Samantha Barks and Andy Karl play Vivian and Edward

One of the most successful romantic comedies of the last 30 years has been brought to Broadway.

Pretty Woman: The Musical stars Isle of Man actress Samantha Barks as Vivian Ward, the role that catapulted Julia Roberts to stardom in the 1990 film.

Reviews have been mixed, with The Guardian giving it one star and calling it “a tasteless disaster”.

However, The Telegraph gave it four stars and praised the chemistry between Barks and her co-star Andy Karl.

Karl plays the high-powered Edward Lewis, filling the shoes of Richard Gere.

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Matthew Murphy

“They make a terrifically entertaining and magnetic pair,” the Telegraph’s critic Diane Snyder wrote.

“Barks is sparkling and spunky, a winning foil for Karl (a recent Olivier winner for the musical of Groundhog Day), who finds a rich emotional undercurrent in the uncompromising businessman.”

The film, about the relationship between a millionaire and a prostitute in Hollywood, has been ranked as the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time.

The Stage also gave the new musical adaptation a four-star review.

“Jerry Mitchell’s peppy production is propelled by the sheer professionalism of its delivery, the attractive soft-rock songs of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, and the chemistry of its leads,” Mark Shenton wrote.

Shenton also hailed the scene-stealing “fierce, belting voice” of actress Orfeh, who plays Vivian’s best friend Kit.

Image copyright
Matthew Murphy

However, The Guardian’s Alexis Soloski called the musical “tuneful, schlocky, and deeply offensive”.

She wrote: “You might have thought that a musical adaptation, even one created by an all-male creative team, would have nodded to a few cultural changes or at least given its female lead a credible storyline.

“You might have thought wrong.”

The show is “still the heart-warming story of how sex teaches a man to feel and money teaches a woman to… shop?” Soloski wrote.

“But now it has a middle-aged male narrator (Eric Anderson) added on.”

Time Out‘s reviewer Adam Feldman said the musical was “just a dutiful replica of the movie”, with “nearly every well-known line in roughly the same order”.

He added: “Even Roberts’s signature costumes are copied, and sometimes presented for entrance applause.”

He added: “Not only does this approach miss an opportunity to rethink the story’s sugar-daddy fantasy in a deeper way, it also gets stale fast; this ain’t our first time on Rodeo Drive.”

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