Pretty Woman in Miami

Pretty Woman: The Musical is back on tour across the country, and it is currently staged at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. The musical is based on the beloved 1990 movie starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, growing the want for a musicalization of the nostalgic moment in cinema. South Florida Theater Magazine was there on opening night, and it was a fun time, watching the movie come to life on stage in such a satisfying way. Vivian (Ellie Baker) stole the show from her first note.

For a relatively new number, the first rendition appearing in Chicago in 2018, this performance feels mostly like a carbon copy of the movie, leaving the room for the two main actors to do their thing and win our hearts. The Arsht Center was the perfect place to try to make that happen. Although the movie and the musical is set in Hollywood (California), it isn’t too much of a stretch in imagining that this could be Hollywood (Florida); the stage was bracketed with neon palm trees as tall as its ceilings. The environment felt familiar enough to erase any kind of West Coast vibe, something that wouldn’t happen when/if this production makes it north or to the Midwest. It felt warm, and that’s the perfect place for a love story.

Sarah Wang and The Company of Pretty Woman: The Musical Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

If you don’t know Pretty Woman, Vivian is a prostitute that just wants to be “Anywhere But Here,” until she meets Edward (Chase Wolfe) who immediately falls in love with her. He’s rich, so it’s okay. He buys her to be his date to everything for a week, yet she continually tells him it is her who determines to herself, Edward, and the audience as to who, why, and how much she charges. In typical fashion, he can’t communicate his emotions, and Vivian wants the fairy tale love after all. Edward throws away a big, heartless business deal because he’s seen the error in his ways, and they end up happily ever after, of course. It’s comforting.

(L to R) Chase Wolfe and Ellie Baker Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

As I briefly mentioned earlier, Ellie Baker’s take on the role of Vivian Ward was confident, and her presence had me caught from her first appearance. Her song “Anywhere But Here” will probably be stuck in my head for the rest of my days. The rest of the supporting cast had their moments to shine, too. The character of Happy Man, who was also the Hotel Manager, and the conductor of the live orchestra, was played by Adam Du Plessis, hilariously so. Vivian’s best friend Kit De Luca (Rae Davenport) could belt. Even the antagonist of Philip Stuckey (Liam Searcy) had moments where I felt the negative presence of him in his scenes. 

(L to R) Bethany McDonald , Ellie Baker, and Taylor M. Sheppard Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

The only performance that I felt was lackluster came from Edward (Chase Wolfe). His big solo song is called “Freedom,” which comes back as a reprise later in the second act, but it was not a song I wanted to return to. His performance seemed to get eclipsed by his mighty partner in Baker that his songs and moments felt flat. While I did not enjoy most of Wolfe’s moments, the duet “You’re Beautiful” was his shining moment, in my opinion.

Pretty Woman: The Musical is on at the Arsht Center until Sunday, December 10. Don’t give up on your dream and go see it before it leaves!

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